Best small museum, Skokie division
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
Over the past 60 years the Holocaust has been discussed and dissected and interpreted and reinterpreted so many times, it’s hard to imagine there’s anything left to say. The tiny Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, however, continues to find new stories to tell. In addition to a permanent exhibit recounting the Holocaust through the perspective of Illinois residents who either experienced it or witnessed it as American GIs, it hosts just two shows every year, but its curatorial staff chooses them wisely. Over the past few years, the museum has featured exhibits on Hannah Senesh, a Hungarian poet/soldier who was captured during a rescue mission;Charlotte Salomon, a German artist who painted an extensive graphic autobiography while hiding from the Nazis in the south of France; and Ruth Gruber, an American photojournalist who documented the plight of Jewish refugees after World War II. But the museum doesn’t just focus on the events of World War II: it also looks at holocausts in other times and places, such as South Africa, Croatia, and the Soviet Union, and asks us to consider the cost of intolerance in our own lives. Every visit gives you something new to think about. Among the current special exhibitions is “Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust,” which runs through September 7.