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  1. Life & Culture

Florida Holocaust Museum continues its mission beyond St. Petersburg

The museum has pivoted to a virtual platform to reach teachers and students throughout the state and beyond.

While the Florida Holocaust Museum has been closed to the public since March 16, it continues to offer teachers and students educational resources.

The museum’s executive director Elizabeth Gelman released an “open letter” to the community recently outlining the ways the museum is staying engaged with the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have been aiding implementation of Florida’s Required Instruction for Holocaust education by providing teacher training, relevant classroom programs, and quality resources across the state, free of charge, for over 28 years," Gelman stated in the release.

She said that when the museum closed, staff immediately pivoted all of their operations to a digital platform so that they could provide educational resources and virtual outreach initiatives to teachers, students and families throughout Florida and beyond.

Here are some statistics from the first eight weeks they were closed:

633 students and 21 teachers participated in “Zoom with a Survivor” virtual lessons.

4,157 took virtual tours of the museum’s permanent exhibition.

14,859 tuned into “drop-in” activities on Facebook: Testimony Tuesday, Artifact Wednesday and Lesson Thursday.

21,470 observed the Facebook stream of the Yom HaShoah Commemoration as 113 national, state and local dignitaries and community leaders read the names of victims of the Holocaust on April 21.

Gelman also said that the museum has been holding virtual trainings for teachers throughout the state and will continue to do so in June.

The museum also offers virtual resources for the public on its website, flholocaustmuseum.org, where the museum’s collection can be explored — that can also be done through social media interaction.

“We are diligently working to create the plan that will allow us to once again open our doors and safely welcome back staff, visitors, students, volunteers and our most precious resource, our local Holocaust Survivors,” the letter stated. “Until then, we will continue to perform our mission-critical work to use the lessons of the Holocaust to create a better future for all.”

The letter ends with “a sincere note of gratitude”:

“So many people in our community and across the state and country have sent in donations and messages of support. Thank you. Thank you for letting us know that the lessons of the Holocaust continue to be relevant and important during this extraordinary time. Your support has made it possible for us to continue to deliver our mission driven work in a new way.”

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