The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, as staff members and visitors alike are wont to repeat, is unlike other museums. The memorial to Holocaust victims, with its sobering galleries and artifacts, inspires the sort of quiet contemplation more associated with houses of worship than art museums. Even the architecture — particularly the atrium’s steel-ribbed ceiling — suggests visitors have passed through a portal to a different world than the one they left outside.
But a year after celebrating its 20th anniversary, as survivors age and the era without eyewitnesses looms, the museum has been forced to evolve. On Sept. 10, it launched a mobile app designed to complement a museum visit, effectively reversing a ban on smartphone use in its permanent collection. (The launch was so soft that several days after the app was live, museum staff members were still directing incoming visitors to turn off their phones.)
Museum officials say they will announce a reversal of the ban on photography in the permanent exhibit later this fall. The ban has been in place since the museum opened in 1993.
Read more of my Washington Post article “U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum adopts new rules to attract digital generation.”