Telling an old story new – The Holocaust

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Today on Radio Johnny, Adaptive Path’s Teresa Brazen talks with the Mark Rothman, Executive Director at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Mark discusses the creative process of designing this new building, including: how they chose to deliver this challenging content, their curatorial philosophy, and how visitors are engaging with the rich technology that drives their visit.


The whole idea of what the holocaust represents, an industrialized attempt to wipe out an entire group of people, or multiple groups of people, should be hard to understand. It should be hard for us to wrap our heads around.

What does the human mind need to assimilate information, and, even more, to connect with it emotionally? We are 90% emotional thinkers. I’m totally convinced of that, there is research that shows that. We like to think we can rationally make decisions about what car we are going to drive, and frankly the partner we marry. We like to think we made a rational choice, but in a recent book David Brooks, (author of) The Social Animal, showed really powerfully, a lot of those choices were made in the first 30 seconds, totally subconsciously, before we even knew what was going on.

Just because I walk by a staged set that suggests a (Jewish) ghetto, doesn’t mean I can ever understand what it’s like to be in a ghetto.

I knew that if we were going to do anything with technology, I don’t care if we just had one single television screen, we were going to have to build it to the top of the aesthetic and technological curve, just to be able to have our voice heard in what is, in the 21t century, a video and technology intense environment.


The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is the oldest such museum in the United States. Established in 1961 by a group of Holocaust survivors, the museum lost its home in 1994 due to an earthquake. For years, the organization moved its exhibit around, and in 2010, it established a permanent home in Pan Pacific Park.

Mark discusses the challenges of exhibiting content in a way that does not subvert emotional connection, but personalizes and makes relevant this tragic part of our past.



Detail of Touch Table

Detail of Touch Table


* Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
* Mark Rothman’s blog
* Recommended reading: The Social Animal by David Brooks
* See more images of the Holocaust Museum on the Tea With Teresa Blog


Images courtesy of Teresa Brazen

Teresa Brazen

Teresa Brazen is a Program Manager at Adaptive Path. In her work she takes cues from her experiences across a broad spectrum of disciplines (filmmaking, fine art, improv, design research, user experience design) to craft intentional environments for her teams and clients. She believes that thoughtful design of these literal and figurative "environments" results in work that is actionable, co-created, co-owned and more likely to succeed in the world. When she's not managing design projects, she makes short films, interviews interesting people for podcasts, photographs signage that tells people not to do things, makes art and speaks about her work. Her short films and paintings have exhibited internationally in galleries in Guyana, Malaysia, China, Italy and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. She and her fiancé are currently conducting research on marriage to learn what works and doesn't, so that they can be more intentional about designing their life together. They plan to share their findings in a book and blog. Learn more about what Teresa is up to at

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