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Albuquerque Museum Works to Combat Intolerance Through Education

By Allison Wilson

Many people believe that hate, intolerance and bullying in our society result from a lack of knowledge and a fear of differences we do not understand. The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico in Albuquerque was founded on that belief, with the goal of combatting hate by promoting understanding through education.

The museum displays exhibits that showcase art, photographs, sculptures, and replicas commemorating the Holocaust and highlighting its defining milestones and images. For example, the Replica Concentration Camp Gate is a sculpture by Holocaust survivor Vivienne Hermann that portrays the gates prisoners saw upon their arrival at concentration camps. The Rescuers Exhibit highlights individuals who put their lives on the line to save Jews, and many other displays are dedicated to important Holocaust events like the Nuremberg Trials and the rescue of the Danish Jews. The museum also has exhibits that educate about other atrocities throughout history including Genocide of Christian Minorities in the Ottoman Empire, Native American cultural genocide, slavery in America, and the "tolerated" genocide in Rwanda.

Additionally, the Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico promotes education through special events like documentary screenings and director Q&A sessions around films like "Enemy of the People," an Armenian documentary that presents the history of terror in the USSR between the 1930s and 1950s. The museum is currently hosting a series of art workshops for anyone ages 5 and up celebrating the teachings of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, who taught creative art classes to children in the Terezin concentration camp between 1942 and 1944.

Museum staff also participate in community outreach, speaking on a regular basis to students and teachers at schools around Albuquerque. They address issues such as hate, bullying, and other types of intolerance as they relate to most modern and historical events - with a focus on coping mechanisms and acceptance of other people's cultures.

"From my observations as a former English as a Second Language teacher," says a Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico Board Member who wishes to remain anonymous, "I noticed some of my students showed signs of discomfort and certainly ignorance of other cultures when new students joined our class, specifically the female refugees from Africa. At first, the students didn't understand their customs or culture and would poke fun at the girls and laugh at them inappropriately. This is an example of how some people may react to new cultures and people they are unfamiliar with before being educated and becoming more aware and accepting of other cultures, religions, beliefs of groups and people who are unfamiliar or foreign to them. Learning about and accepting differences of people is a key factor in education."

The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is located at 616 Central Avenue SW in downtown Albuquerque.

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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