The legacy of the Weissmann family: traces of the Jewish community (LS-ME-593)

This Learning Scenario, created by Jesenka Ricl, is designed to give participants a better understanding of the cultural, social, and economic changes that took place during World War II. Given the forgotten and instructive life stories of members of the Jewish community, we want to deepen reflections on social change and trigger critical thinking on the negative aspects of spreading social intolerance and arise positive attitudes about social inclusion and acceptance of cultural differences in local communities. In this case, participants will use historical sources about the Weissmann Jewish family who lived in Osijek, in eastern Croatia.

In the museum

Introduction

There are people from the Jewish community who lived the World War II years, and their names are associated with either museums, or certain exhibitions, or a place/building within a town or country. The educator introduces the activity by presenting this connection. He / She can choose the connection that suits better to the context that he/she works in. Moreover, it is suggested to choose a person of whom there are pictures of personal items, artifacts, etc., which participants can reach. For the purposes of this learning scenario, the connection between Museum of Slavonia and Hermann Weissmann is going to be used as introduction.

From personal items and family stories to the museum collection

The museum educator explains to the participants how the Museum of Slavonia was established. Namely, the Museum of Slavonia was founded on the basis of a donated private collection, which indicates the close relationship that the museum has with the local community.

One of the museum donors was Dr Hermann Weissmann, a prominent public and cultural figure. In 1941 Dr Weissmann wrote to the Major of Osijek, offering his library and art collection in exchange for the permission to stay in his apartment, because at the time the dislocation of Jews from the city centre had already begun. Cultural-historical objects of the lawyer Hermann Weissmann today are a part of rich collections in cultural institutions in Osijek.

The educator then shows and describes several personal items from the Museum of Slavonia Collection such as black and white photography of Weissmann from 1930, an oil painting representing City of Osijek painted in 1868, and a book called “Bob und Baby” that once belonged to daughter of Herrmann Weissmann.


All images are under CC BY-NC-ND license    
 

Learn more:

The Massacre of the InnocentsChildren playing in a courtyard in Vienna

Carpentry shop of the Natanson Professional School of the Jewish Community, WarsawWomen sitting by sewing machines in the Girls’ Trade School, Przemysl, Poland

Interpreting the meaning of a personal object

Museum educator explains the term interpretation. Interpretation is part of the communication process in which the visitor receives the information and if the interpretation is successful, the visitor will adopt the information and it will be of particular importance to the visitor. Interpretation is also fun. In addition to acquiring information about the museum and any other object through interpretation, interpretation provokes curiosity, attention and arouses interest.

The following activity can be carried out individually, in pairs or in teams, depending on the number of participants. The museum educator prepares several different museum objects in advance such as a photograph, an item of clothing, a book, a letter and the like. In addition, participants will receive a short introductory text about the owner of the object or event related to the object. The task is for the participants to study the museum objects and then describe them orally or write down the data. The aim is to find out the basic facts about the object, such as the type of material from which the object is made, the year of creation or the author, and then to whom the object belonged and what purpose the object had. In the case of the interpretation of an object, it is permissible to think about the transferred meaning or feelings that the object evokes, especially in situations where the object contains certain symbols such as the Star of David or the menorah.

Items that can be used:

Menorah, 1950, Joods Historisch Museum

Menorah from BL Add 14759, f. 2

Amulet Pendant, The Jewish Museum of Greece

Hanukkah Lamp, The Jewish Museum of Greece

Balatoni Múzeum kisgrafika, Balatoni Múzeum – Keszthely

Learn more:

Old Photographs – How to read them

Exploring Artefacts

Interpreting an exhibition

Pop up exhibition

The next activity, after the interpretation of the museum object, is to design a pop-up exhibition.

A pop-up exhibition is a short-term exhibition, which can be organized in a museum or gallery, but also outdoors. It can be organized by art organizations or citizens, or children and young people in schools in order to promote artistic and creative works, a particular topic or increase awareness of issues in the world. The organization of such an exhibition does not require large monetary expenditures.

The museum educator explains which are the most important components of the exhibition, and they are:

  • Pop-up exhibition theme
  • Type of exhibition (informative, review, didactic exhibition, retrospective, thematic, etc.)
  • type of exhibition setup
  • exhibited objects, works of art, performance or spatial installations
  • How to convey the message (text content, tags, social media, etc.)

Participants will work in teams again. Each team will prepare a pop-up exhibition on a specific topic. The topic could be related to their community or neighborhood, challenges theyface as generation or some universal topics such as social inclusion or youth in action. For the needs of the exhibition, they can make informative posters, drawings and sketches, legends with explanations. Pop up exhibition can be conducted easily.

A separate room, hallway or one wall in the room can be an interesting enough space to organize an exhibition. For example, during the Museum Night, a pop up exhibition called Happiness was organized at the Museum of Slavonia. Two informative posters were made with basic information about the organizers of the exhibition and the concept of happiness, but also with instructions on how museum visitors can participate in the exhibition. It was enough to write the answer to the question “What is happiness for you?” on a post-it piece of paper. The wall was full of answers written on pieces of paper of different colors.

Also, each team should think of one or two keywords that will be used as hashtags while promoting the pop up exhibition via social media.Let the participants think of a best way to promote the universal theme of the exhibition such as accepting difference, stop violence, promote peace, my story, or the like.

Resources that can be used:

Migration through the eyes of the Israel Museum

‘I am the change’: refugees, art and activism

Red Cross bus

Creating a Pop Up exhibition

Writing texts and labels

Pop Up Boat

Pop Up Exhibition, Museum of Slavonia

Feedback

At the end of the activity, each team will take on the role of an exhibition guide and use interpretation to convey the main message of an exhibition. The teams will evaluate which pop-up exhibition was the best and comment on how to improve the remaining exhibitions.

Activities online (On this occasion, participants can follow the activities using computers and videoconferencing by following the instructions)

Introduction

There are people from the Jewish community who lived the World War II years, and their names are associated with either museums, or certain exhibitions, or a place/building within a town or country. The educator introduces the activity by presenting this connection. He / She can choose the connection that suits better to the context that he/she works in. Moreover, it is suggested to choose a person of whom there are pictures of personal items, artifacts, etc., which participants can reach. For the purposes of this learning scenario, the connection between Museum of Slavonia and Hermann Weissmann is going to be used as introduction.

From personal items and family stories to the museum collection

The museum educator explains to the participants how the Museum of Slavonia was established. Namely, the Museum of Slavonia was founded on the basis of a donated private collection, which indicates the close relationship that the museum has with the local community.

One of the museum donors was Dr Hermann Weissmann, a prominent public and cultural figure. In 1941 Dr Weissmann wrote to the Major of Osijek, offering his library and art collection in exchange for the permission to stay in his apartment, because at the time the dislocation of Jews from the city centre had already begun. Cultural-historical objects of the lawyer Hermann Weissmann today are a part of rich collections in cultural institutions in Osijek.

The educator then shows and describes several personal items from the Museum of Slavonia Collection such as black and white photography of Weissmann from 1930, an oil painting representing City of Osijek painted in 1868, and a book called “Bob und Baby” that once belonged to daughter of Herrmann Weissmann.

Bob and Baby – CC BY-NC-ND  


 

Learn more:

The Massacre of the Innocents

Children playing in a courtyard in Vienna

Carpentry shop of the Natanson Professional School of the Jewish Community, Warsaw

Women sitting by sewing machines in the Girls’ Trade School, Przemysl, Poland

Interpreting the meaning of a personal object

Museum educator explains the term interpretation. Interpretation is part of the communication process in which one receives the information and if the interpretation is successful, the viewer or listener will adopt the information and it will be of particular importance to a person. Interpretation is also fun. In addition to acquiring information about the object or topic through interpretation, interpretation provokes curiosity, attention and arouses interest.

The following activity can be carried out individually, in pairs or in teams, depending on the number of participants. The museum educator prepares one museum object for example anold photograph and a short introduction to it. Museum educator will demonstrate how to interpret an object.

Participants will do the same by interpreting their personal belonging they hold very dear or has a special meaning and value. It can be a pen, a book, a personal letter or other. In other words, it is permissible to think about the transferred meaning or feelings that the object evokes such as love, understanding, hope etc.

Learn more:

Old photographs – how to red them

Exploring artefacts

Interpreting an exhibition

Social Media Pop up campaig

The next activity, after the interpretation of the museum object, is to get involved in Social Media Pop up campaign by posting a picture of an object with the corresponding text and hash tags.

Firstly, the museum educator explains which are the most important components of the on, and they are:

  • Pop up campaign theme
  • Type of campaign (informative, review, retrospective, thematic, etc.)
  • How to convey the message (text content, tags, social media, etc.)
  • What to post (post, reel, etc.)

Museum educator will ask participants to think of a unique hashtag that will be used within the online activity. It is advisable to have one or more specific terms that will be easily searchable, easy to use, with a strong message and meaning in public.

Participants will work individually. Each participant will prepare one post with the corresponding text and hash tags.

Finally, a Social Media Pop up campaign can be organized by art organizations or citizens, or children and young people in schools in order to promote artistic and creative works, a particular topic or increase awareness of issues in the world.

Learn more:

Creating Pop Up exhibition

Pop Up Boat

Social good hashtags

Feedback

At the end of the activity, each participant will search for the posts on Instagram using the hashtag and choose up to three posts they like the most. Together educator and participants will evaluate which posts were the best and comment on how to improve the remaining online Pop-up campaigns.

Learning Scenario:

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Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee .

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