Please note: The permanent exhibition is intended for visitors 12 years of age and older.
View our online Artifact Gallery to preview some of the objects that will help tell this story.
The Zev and Shifra Karkomi Permanent Exhibition tells the story of the Holocaust, from pre-war German life through ghetto life and concentration camps to eventual liberation and resettlement throughout the world, with a special focus on post-war life in Israel and Skokie. More than 500 artifacts, documents and photographs help illustrate the narrative of the Holocaust while testimonies from local survivors add personal detail. A German Rail Car
of the type used in Nazi deportation programs sits in the cleave of the building. As you pass, feel free to enter the rail car. The exhibition concludes with a summary film in the Pritzker Theater that connects the lessons of the Holocaust with other Genocides.
Visitors enter a gallery in the dark wing of the Museum where they are greeted by a film orienting them to the Holocaust's historical context and its relationship to other acts of genocide and hatred. Visitors will be prompted with questions to guide their museum experience.
Pre-War European Jewish Life
The dark wing shifts dramatically as patrons move spaces through increasing Nazi restrictions primarily targeting Jews, but also affecting Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, the physically and mentally handicapped, trade unionists and homosexuals. Visitors experience how restriction and confiscation were transformed into mass violence with the choreographed anti-Jewish demonstrations of Kristallnacht.
World War II
The descent into darkness continues with the eastward Nazi Blitzkrieg. Jewish ghettoization is demonstrated, along with explanations of world recognition and inaction, and the 1942 Wannsee conference at which Nazi goals expanded to include the orchestrated extermination of millions of European and Soviet Jews.
In the cleave of the building - between the dark and the light sections
- will stand the anchor artifact, an early twentieth century German
rail car. Of the type used by the Nazis to transport millions of Jews
to concentration camps and ultimately, their deaths, the freight car
symbolizes the horrific end for so many who were taken from their homes
and mass murdered in camps and ghettos. Visitors will pass the car and
may enter if they choose. Learn more about the rail car here
In the lighter wing, visitors experience stories of liberation, displaced persons camps, immigration and rebirth in North America, Israel and elsewhere. Upon conclusion of their journey, guests enter the Hall of Reflection, where they may engage in personal contemplation.