Milestone comes on the heels of extended exhibit hours due to popular demand
Simi Valley, CA – In the midst of a sharp rise in the number of antisemitic incidents in the United States and abroad, visitors from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and around the world are stepping up to educate themselves and combat the issue. This past Sunday, the 100,000th person visited Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., which opened at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library exactly 100 days prior. More than 20,000 additional tickets have already been reserved. The Reagan Library is the exhibition’s only stop on the West Coast and it is already one of the most visited exhibits in the library’s history.
“We are thrilled and touched by the public’s response to this profound exhibit,” said David Trulio, President and CEO of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. “As antisemitism and hatred are on the rise, it is critical we ensure people of all ages learn from history’s most evil times so that these heinous acts are never repeated.”
The Auschwitz camp claimed nearly one million lives under a horrific regime of state-sponsored systematic murder during the Holocaust. Patrons from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and across the globe have purchased tickets to view this exhibition which contains hundreds of artifacts, photographs, and personal stories on display. Due to the public’s overwhelming response to this exhibit, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has made changes to alleviate crowding and provide the most optimal viewing experience for everyone by reducing the number of visitors permitted in the galleries at any one given time and by extending hours on weekends.
Created by Spanish company Musealia together with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, and now being toured through North America by World Heritage Exhibitions, the exhibit displays the largest and most comprehensive collection of artifacts linked to the history of this German Nazi concentration and extermination camp. Among the collection of more than 700 original artifacts are personal items that belonged to Auschwitz victims, including eyeglasses, suitcases, and shoes, as well as three concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz II camp; a desk and other possessions of the first and the longest-serving Auschwitz commandant; a gas mask used by the SS; and an original German-made Model 2 freight train car used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in occupied Poland.
More than 170 public, private, and homeschools have registered to attend the exhibit, representing nearly 10,000 students. Among those, 40 needs-based schools and youth organizations supporting more than 5,000 students (and nearly 600 supervising teachers/chaperones/special needs aids) have been awarded financial grants to cover travel, food, and ticket expenses to visit the exhibition.
“Every educator – and every human – who has the opportunity to visit this exhibit and bring the budding minds of our next generation along, should feel a duty to do so,” said Eric Adler, an 8th grade middle school teacher who took his students to the exhibit. “In today’s world, I truly believe there is absolutely nothing more important than to expose our students to powerful immersive experiences that bring the past to light, shed truth on our present reality, and equip them to build a brighter future.”
Through this in-depth curated exhibition, history, even its worst moments, can be remembered and be a source of learning.
“Your exhibit opened my eyes, and I cannot thank you enough for that,” said Erin M., an 8th grade middle school student. “I started to cry but told myself to continue looking. Nobody should have to experience what those in the Holocaust did.”
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has received over 2,500 individual donations in support of this exhibit and more than 60,000 hours of cumulative audio has been heard, teaching visitors about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
Thirty-five years ago at the site of the future United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., President Ronald Reagan emphasized the importance of preserving the memory of the twelve million lives lost during the Holocaust.
“We must make sure that from now until the end of days all humankind stares this evil in the face, that all humankind knows what this evil looks like and how it came to be,” said President Reagan. He added, “And when we truly know it for what it was, then and only then can we be sure that it will never come again.”
The Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. exhibit is doing just that, remembering those lost during one of humanity’s darkest eras and shedding light on the conditions that led to their murder.
“The Holocaust took place not long ago and not far away, and we must never allow genocide to resurface,” continued Trulio. “It is our hope that this exhibit inspires people to show love and kindness towards one another, no matter what their backgrounds.”