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APR 12, 2012

Tree of Testimony Press Release


Mark Rothman






  • Beginning Sunday, April 22, Tree Of Testimony: USC Shoah Foundation Institute Interview Wall at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust becomes available to the public
  • Seventy video screens displaying 52,000 interviews from USC Shoah Foundation Institute Archive to be accessed using award-winning iPod touch technology
  • Stand-alone computers will allow users focused searches of the entire database
  • Grand opening scheduled for late summer 2012
  • Exhibit and Museum admission are free to the public
  • The Museum is sponsoring Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), a day-long commemoration event on April 22



LOS ANGELES, CA – April 12, 2012 – Beginning Sunday, April 22 the city’s only free museum dedicated exclusively to the history of the Holocaust will offer a sneak preview of an unprecedented and stunning exhibit, Tree of Testimony: The USC Shoah Foundation Institute Interview Wall, at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.  The exhibit consists of 70 video screens displaying to Museum visitors the more than 52,000 interviews maintained in the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s archives.  The grand opening will take place in late summer 2012.


The Museum will sponsor Yom Hashoah: Day of Commemoration, an all-day event that will take place at the Museum on April 22 from 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM.  The day will feature tours of the Museum, artistic performances in the Pan Pacific Amphitheater, children’s art activities, and a Ceremony of Commemoration featuring Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, renown Holocaust Scholar Yehudah Bauer, and a musical performance by entertainment legend Theodore Bikel.


The video sculpture, unparalleled in scope and supported in large part by a generous grant from the Wilf Family Foundation, will occupy an entire wall of the Museum and stand as a stirring climax to the visitor experience.  Screens of varying sizes will display individual interviews. Visitors can hear the interviews on any of the screens through the Museum’s award-winning audio guide system, which are distributed free to each guest. It will take an entire year for the 52,000 interviews to be played, emphasizing the enormity of the tragedy.


Key words, culled from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s extensive cataloguing of each interview, will appear on each screen while an interview is playing. These data will alert visitors to the information contained in each interview. Once a visitor chooses a particular interview, that screen will become highlighted and the key words will disappear, allowing the visitor to focus directly on the subject.


Stand-alone computers in the Tepper Family room on the Museum’s exhibit floor and in the library will allow visitors to search for particular testimonies or areas of interest.


The video wall is the brain child of Museum Board President E. Randol Schoenberg, who conceived the installation after seeing video exhibits and art at other museums around the country. “I realized that if we found a way to show visitors the 52,000 interviews recorded and maintained by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, we’d create something extraordinary. Not only would the sheer breadth of the archives and its exhibition portray the Holocaust’s scope. We’d help visitors connect directly to survivors through their testimony, and create a lasting monument to them as well,” Mr. Schoenberg stated.


Stephen Smith, Ph.D., MBE, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, said, “This collaboration with the Museum allows us to offer the archives to the public in an expanded and extremely meaningful way. The Museum welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year who will now be able to engage with this critical material.”


The USC Shoah Foundation’s interviews were conducted with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, including liberators, rescuers, and aid providers.  They were recorded in many languages and in locations all over the world.


About Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Holocaust survivors founded the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in the early 1960s as a permanent repository for their personal artifacts from the Holocaust and the world the Nazis destroyed.   Today the Museum hosts docent-led school tours, survivor lectures, exhibitions on the Holocaust, and numerous special events. Museum admission is always free.  Visit us online at on the Web.