Stalin Repressions

Finalist 2018

The new part of the JMTC’s permanent exhibition is dedicated to the story of Soviet Jews from 1945 through the late 1960s, during which moments of hope were quickly replaced by new waves of anti-Semitic repressions.

The team of architects, designers, historians, writers, editors and animators set out to build a narrative which would not only unfold the many important facts of the period but also evoke a real emotional connection to the story. They started with finding an architectural design solution to serve as an emotional set up for the narrative: two consecutive corridors with pools of light interspersed with darker areas. The corridors evoke several associations, both literal and figurative, such as the corridors of state prisons and the hallways of the KGB headquarters.

The first corridor is both wider and brighter, denoting the brief moment of elation which came right after the end of WWII, with victory for the Soviet Union and the hope of a happier future for its Jewish population. However, the moment was fleeting so as visitors turn a sharp corner, they find themselves in a narrower and darker corridor of the new wave of anti-Semitic repressions.

The exhibition combines innovative museum technology such as interactive panels and immersive media environments, with recreated period spaces. For example, it features an accurate replica of a cell in Lubyanka, the menacing prison and KGB headquarters. It was also important to include a space where visitors could experience a moment of stillness to think, to feel and to remember those who fell victim to repressions, hence an immersive media installation titled “Stars” that is inspired by a quote from Sholem Aleichem, who said that “every star is a human’s soul.”

Design Firms: 

Lorem Ipsum

Client: 

Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center

Project Area: 

850 sq ft

Open Date: 

June 2017

Project Budget: 

$90,000

Photo Credits: 

Yan Vizinberg (photography), Abigail Honor (videography)

Design Team: 

Abigail Honor (designer), Yan Vizinberg (designer), Chris Cooper (designer), Adrian Castineira (designer), Masha Pyshkina (producer), Bruce Chilton (video and production designer), Stephen Maneri (video and production designer)

Consultants: 

Ted Mather, Rachel Gibney

Fabricators: 

RHG Exhibits, Robert Guest, Alan Netherton

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