The Museum of Tolerance in L.A houses a series of important permanent exhibitions that cover some of humanity’s deadliest in-tolerances towards one another.
It ranges from hate-filled contemporary social-media to coverage of the holocaust and other genocide fuelled atrocities throughout history.
While clearly not the most uplifting museums you will ever visit, it is extremely thought-provoking and is an essential dark tourist spot when visiting L.A.
History of the Museum of Tolerance
The museum first opened in 1993 and was established by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a well-known human rights organization foundered by Holocaust survivor, Simon Wiesenthal.
The aim of the museum from the very beginning was to educate visitors to the importance of tolerance for their fellow human, by highlighting the horrific results of in-tolerance.
Essentially, the museum has been designed to examine the harmful impact of racism and prejudice around the world. Its mission is to “remind us of the past, so that we may forge a better, more harmonious future.”
The museum has proven extremely popular over the last 3 decades. Today approximately 350,000 people visit each year, almost a third of which (130,000) are students.
Where is the Museum of Tolerance?
- Address: 9786 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035, United States
- Phone: +1 310-772-2505
- Admission: $11–16
Inside the Museum of Tolerance
There is a lot to see inside the Museum of Tolerance, much of which is presented in an effective multimedia style way.
A large area is devoted to the Holocaust atrocities, (understandably), however, there are also sections focusing on human rights issues in Latin America, Africa, and Cambodia.
The American civil rights movement is explored thoroughly, as are the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia.
Terrorism, the exploitation of women and children, and other serious topics such as bullying and hate crimes are all covered within the museum.
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The Holocaust is dealt with in an extremely comprehensive manner that you will not forget once you leave.
The 70-minute dramatic presentation is designed to transport visitors back to the period between the 1920s and 1945 in Nazi-dominated Europe.
Especially poignant is the fact that every visitor receives a photo passport card with the story of a child living during the Holocaust.
As the presentation progresses (visitors explore areas such as a reconstructed Berlin cafe and walk through a Hall of Testimony), the passport card will update, detailing the events that took place in the child’s life during the upheaval.
At the end of the tour, you find out whether the child lived or died through the holocaust. The emotional connection you have with the passport card, cannot be overstated.
The reveal of the child’s ultimate fate is extremely hard-hitting, (in my case, the child was murdered inside Auschwitz concentration camp); I was reduced to tears as a result.
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The Tolerancenter is a large area of the museum that focuses on the major issues of intolerance experienced in everyday life (past and present).
It is split into 7 sections; the Point of View Diner, the Millennium Machine, “Ain’t You Gotta Right?”, In Our Time, GlobalHate.com, We the People, and Making Your Mark.
I will not describe each part in detail, as you really need to experience the museum to fully appreciate the aim of the various messages.
However, rest assured that the information is all presented in a highly engaging way, with recreations of historical places, multimedia visual walls, audio/video demonstrations, and other interactive methods used.
The exhibition of Anne Frank’s life is very well put together. It contains a number of rare artifacts from the era, including original documents and items belonging to Anne.
There is also a reproduction of Anne’s diary, with copies of her handwritten loose-leaf sheets on display.
Photographs detailing her plight are presented using multimedia technology. A clear highlight for me was the 260-degree film dramatization of Anne’s room in the Secret Annex. It really brings to life the nature of her self-forced incarceration as she hid from the Nazis.
The contemporary, hi-tech manner of the exhibition continues further with the Interactive Action Lab.
Here, visitors (especially school children) can reflect upon Anne Frank’s story, with a focus on connecting the historical aspects to events going on today.
You are then encouraged to write a pledge that can be instantly shared on social media through the electronic tablets within the lab.
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Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves
The Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves exhibit details the lives of Americans with diverse personal histories.
Through the learning of their journey, visitors are invited to examine the various family members that inspired them to succeed.
In turn, you are encouraged to reflect upon your own personal history, including the mentors and heroes that mean something to you.
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Para Todos Los Niños / For All The Children
This exhibition highlights the struggles of Latino families in Southern California. It aims to demonstrate the harmful nature of segregation and the history of discrimination in California that continues to impact the everyday lives of non-White citizens.
There is an associated museum based in New York, and currently, the Museum of Tolerance is attempting to establish a “Center for Human Dignity” in Jerusalem.
If you’ve visited a dark tourism location that you think our readers will want to know about, we would love to hear from you.
Featured Image: Smart Destinations /Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)