Bold multi-million-dollar Take A Stand Center to be unveiled at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

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The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center will unveil its new multi-million-dollar Take A Stand Center, an immersive permanent exhibition with a forward-looking emphasis on multiple areas of social justice, on Sunday, October 29, 2017.

Furthering the Museum’s mission of empowering and enabling people to stand up for humanity, the Take A Stand Center was created to move visitors from Knowledge to Inspiration to Action, with the 4,000-square-foot Center comprised of three unique and interactive galleries:

Illinois Holocaust Museum will be the first in the world to employ groundbreaking, interactive, three-dimensional technology to tell Holocaust Survivor stories in an incredibly life-like way in the 66-seat Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories Experience. The technology, developed by USC Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony program, combines high-definition holographic interview recordings and voice recognition technology to enable Survivors to tell their deeply moving personal stories and then respond to questions from the audience, inviting one-on-one ‘conversation.’  Through the capturing of these stories, the Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories Experience will address the challenge of preserving first-hand Survivor narratives for future generations.  Years from now, long after the last Survivor has passed on, the New Dimensions in Testimony program will provide a path to enable young people to listen to a Survivor and ask their own questions directly, essentially advancing the age-old tradition of passing down lessons through oral storytelling, but with the latest technologies available. 13 Survivors from around the world have been through the rigorous recording process; the seven from Chicago include Aaron Elster (Lincolnshire), Fritzie Fritzshall (Buffalo Grove), Sam Harris (Kildeer), Janine Oberrotman (Lincolnwood), Adina Sella (Chicago), Israel Starck (Chicago), and Matus Stolov (Evanston).

After visitors learn in the Survivor Stories Experience the dangers of hatred, prejudice and indifference and the power of their voices and choices, the Goodman Upstander Gallery will take visitors on an interactive exploration of 40 historical and contemporary Upstanders who have fought against injustice and stood up for worthy causes, from education and equal rights to economic opportunities, safe communities, health and the environment. Life-size Story Portals will allow visitors to interact with digital stories of each of these Upstanders, enabling visitors to put themselves in the shoes of these heroes and come away inspired to create positive change in the world.  Chosen with input from numerous advisory groups—including local community leaders, academics, educators, high school students, and Museum board members—the Upstanders all have taken action to impact their communities in positive ways. Upstanders include historic leaders Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, and Jane Addams; artists and athletes Theaster Gates and Carli Lloyd; advocate Malala Yousafzai; and 13-year-old Marley Dias, who raises awareness of the need for diversity in children’s literature and reminds us that we have the power to make a positive impact at any age.

The Take A Stand Lab will then put the power of change in visitors’ hands, allowing them to get involved and make their voices heard. The Lab’s features include an Interactive Media Kiosk illustrating how to take action on issues of importance to the visitor through raising awareness, giving, advocating and participating; Success Story Flip Books sharing stories and strategies of individuals and organizations that have taken a stand and made a positive difference in their communities; and a Leave-A-Pledge Interactive, enabling visitors to pledge to make a difference in their area of passion.

Augmenting the three primary galleries will be the Act of Art Gallery expanding the Take A Stand Center experience by highlighting art as a form of social action and activism.  The gallery, comprised of the Museum’s fine art collection and curated for the Take A Stand Center, includes pieces that explore significant historical events from the lens of the artists and the messages they want to convey.

“The opening of the Take A Stand Center is a major milestone not only for our Museum and the Midwest, but for our world,” said Museum CEO Susan Abrams. “Our Museum team is proud to be leading the way in using the history and lessons of the Holocaust and the inspiration of Upstanders, to equip our community, teachers, students, and the public to take a stand for humanity.”

“Illinois Holocaust Museum’s mission and message against hatred and intolerance are as relevant and vital today as they have ever been,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I am confident this center will empower and encourage more courageous people around the world to stand up and speak out against racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and bigotry in all its ugly forms.”

A public opening celebration is planned for Sunday, October 29, from 10 am- 5 pm, inviting visitors to sample the empowering, immersive experience.  The opening day will include the opportunity to hear in-person from Survivors filmed for the Take A Stand Center, performances of musical and spoken-word poetry, as well as a chance to take action in the Museum through stations that enable visitors to begin to put in practice what they have learned in the exhibit.   The theater experience and other activities are free with museum admission.  It is highly recommended to make a reservation for the theater experience in advance.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, located at 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, IL, honors the Survivors and victims of the Holocaust and transforms history into current, relevant, and universal lessons in humanity. Through world-class exhibitions and programs, the Museum inspires individuals and organizations and provides a universal wake-up call to action: Take history to heart. Take a stand for humanity. The Museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 8:00 p.m.  Learn more at