The Swedish Holocaust Museum Between the Physical and the Virtual : A Perspective on the Importance of the Physical and Pedagogical in Virtual Museums
Abstract: The creation of a new Holocaust museum in Sweden has sparked discussion regarding placement, how to make it accessible, and how to make that accessibility equal between the physical and virtual. The National Historical Museums of Sweden was given the task to open the Swedish Holocaust Museum in Stockholm 10 month after they were appointed the task (Regeringskansliet 2021b). This and receiving less than half of the funds requested for the project lead to the museum not being able to open with a physical space but will be a purely digital space on the official website when opened (ibid.; Hörmark 2022). The museum will then gradually gain a physical space (Annika 2022). Academic research on a new Holocaust museum and their implementations of virtual and digital tools has not been found, therefore this thesis aims to fill that gap with the aid of the previous research. The thesis examines the current available material for the not yet opened Swedish Holocaust Museum through qualitative methods. The pre-process entailed gathering available reports and public discussions, getting into contact with the staff at the National Historical Museums of Sweden and limiting the scope of the thesis. Interviews were conducted with three employees and observations were conducted on two testimony AI by Dimensions in Testimony. The post-process was transcribing, analysing, and categorizing the material under different themes. Throughout the process, academic research has continuously been read and implemented. The analysis was conducted on the importance of the location of the museum and the public discourse on whether the museum ought to be located in Malmö or Stockholm. It also analyses the expected contents of the website, being the testimony AI and the interactive timeline through a pedagogical perspective. The website will only include the Dimensions in Testimony AI as well as five items and their description when it launches. Finally, the expected website contents were analysed through the potential of being a virtual museum. The thesis found that the importance of the location might have been mediated by putting emphasis on accessibility through the website. Both the testimony AI and the timeline are pedagogically rich but comes with some technical difficulties. The website has great potential in becoming a virtual museum and should be viewed as such. The thesis also found that interactions between the physical and virtual space might increase the perceived authenticity of the virtual museum and generate more interest.
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