Previous Special Exhibitions



September 29, 2013-January 26, 2014

Main Special Exhibition Gallery

Victory Dress

During a time of extreme hardship, rationing, and deprivation in World War II Britain, textiles were put into service as designers created fashions to save on essential wartime materials, and injected style and beauty into the harsh realities of wartime life. Keep Calm and Carry On offered a rare glimpse into a time when beauty (in measured amounts) was not frivolous—it was a patriotic duty!

This exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with the support of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf. The Golder Family Foundation is lead sponsor for all Illinois Holocaust Museum special exhibitions. Additional local support provided by Rotarians for Peace, in honor of Rotarian Sir Nicholas Winton. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Victory Print dress, Britain, 1945
Arnold Lever for Jacqmar
Gift of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Photography © 2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston




Fire In My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh

May 14- September 8, 2013

Fire In My Heart PosterA promising poet in Budapest, Hannah Senesh became a Zionist and immigrated to British Mandate Palestine in 1939. Four years later, the 22- year-old volunteered to penetrate Nazi-controlled Europe as a British intelligence officer, parachuting into Yugoslavia. Captured, imprisoned, and ultimately executed, Senesh became a national hero to the Jewish community in Palestine within months of her death. Through her writings, photographs, possessions, and interviews with friends and colleagues, her remarkable life was revealed here for the first time.

Created and circulated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Museum Special Exhibitions. This exhibition is made possible by leadership gifts in loving memory of Anne Ratner from her children and grandchildren, and from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Additional support provided by the David Berg Foundation and The Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, Inc. We are grateful to the Senesh Family for making the exhibition possible by providing material from their collection.

Photo courtesy of the Senesh Family collection.

COURAGE: The Vision to End Segregation, the Guts to Fight for It

February 3- April 21, 2013

Courage PosterA look at the inspirational late-1940s journey of Rev. J.A. De Laine and the brave citizens of Clarendon County as they fought to put an end to separate, unequal schools and contributed to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education.

Created by the Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, NC. The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Museum Special Exhibitions. Made possible by a generous grant from Bank of America.

Spies Traitors and Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America

July 15, 2012–January 6, 2013

A piece of the World Trade Center, part of the new exhibit at the spy museum, "Terrorism: The Enemy Within."A creation of the International Spy Museum, this provocative exhibition explored key events of America’s past—dramatic moments of action, often frightening and destabilizing—when Americans have felt threatened within their own borders, prompting visitors to challenge and discover their own beliefs and assumptions.

The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Museum Special Exhibitions.

Photo: A fragment of a plane used to attack the World Trade Center in 2001, courtesy of the International Spy Museum.

Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War

February 19, 2012–June 17, 2012

American Jews in the Second World WarA celebration of the achievements of Jewish men and women who were part of the American war effort on and off of the battlefield, in their own voices and through artifacts, letters, and photographs.

Created and circulated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York. The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Museum Special Exhibitions. Major funding provided by Jack and Susan Rudin and Family in memory of Lewis Rudin; by Irving Schneider in memory of his friend, Lewis Rudin; and by Irving and June Paler in memory of June’s father, Duncan Robertson, who fought in both World Wars. Additional support provided by Verizon Foundation and Local support provided by Steve and Maria Quinlan Farber, in honor of Burton Farber. The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Museum Special Exhibitions.

Photo: Graduation Day at Thunderbird Field; collection of Philip Topiel.

The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946

September 25, 2011–January 15, 2012

The Art of Gaman“Gaman” is a Japanese word that means bearing the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience—the perfect descriptor of the furniture, tools, toys, musical instruments and other arts and crafts handmade by the ethnic Japanese who were forced into America’s internment camps shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. More than 120 objects were loaned from former internees or their families.

Organized by curator Delphine Hirasuna, with advisory support from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Photo: Painted wood carving, artist unknown. Camp: Heart Mountain, Wyoming. From Art of Gaman by Delphine Hirasuna, copyright 2005, Ten Speed. Terry Heffernan photo.

Spots of Light: To Be a Woman in the Holocaust

June 24 – September 6, 2011

Women in the HolocaustThe first international exhibition to focus exclusively on women and their experiences in the Holocaust, this large-scale video-art installation featured images that move and change interwoven with interviews with 10 women Holocaust survivors, giving historical materials a contemporary feel and perspective.

A production of the Museums Division, Yad Vashem. Curated by Yehudit Inbar. The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Museum Special Exhibitions. Presenting sponsor: Rodi and Marvin Glass in honor of Rodi’s mother, Sophie Waters. Supporting sponsors: The Feis Family in memory of their grandmother, Brandla Hofman and aunts, Toby and Feige, who perished in the Holocaust. Additional support provided by Julie and Louis Bucksbaum and family. Visit Yad Vashem to learn more.

Photo: Image of Vava Schoenova, courtesy of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges

February 4 – May 31, 2011

Beyond Swastika and Jim CrowHistorical objects, photographs, texts, and artworks tell the story of refugee scholars, purged from Nazi-ear Germany, who found positions in historically black colleges in the American South. Created and circulated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Museum Special Exhibitions. Major funding from the Leon Levy Foundation. Additional support provided by the Helen Bader Foundation; The Lupin Foundation; The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation; public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; the Alpern Family Foundation; and the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation.

Photo: Professor Ernst Borinski, a German refugee, teaching in the Social Science Lab, Tougaloo College, MS, ca. 1960. Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race

July 23, 2010 – January 2, 2011

Deadly Medicine ExhibitionDocumenting how the Nazi regime collaborated with individuals in professions traditionally charged with healing and the public good, in order to legitimize persecution, murder and, ultimately, genocide.

Produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

The Wartime Escape: Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France

March 26, 2010 – June 20, 2010

Art of Curious GeorgeKnown for creating world-famous character Curious George, Jewish couple Margret and H.A. Rey embarked on little-known five-month odyssey when they fled the Nazi invasion of Paris at the start of World War II. Featuring 27 framed art prints by artist Allan Drummond and supplemental archival images from the holdings of the DeGrummond Collection of Children’s Literature at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Based in part on the 2005 publication The Journey that Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey, written by Louise Borden and illustrated by Allan Drummond (Houghton Mifflin Company, New York). Organized and curated by Beth Seldin Dotan, Director of the Institute for Holocaust Education in Omaha, Nebraska. A program of ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance and The National Endowment for the Arts. Generously brought to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center by the McCormick Foundation.

Anne Frank: A History for Today

Winter 2010

Anne Frank at her deskBy focusing on the well-known Frank family, this exhibition reveals the challenges faced by all Jews during World War II and the difficult decisions people were forced to make. Implicit in the exhibit are the themes of scapegoating, bullying, anti-Semitism, racism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

Developed by the Anne Frank House and sponsored in North America by the Anne Frank Center USA.

Photo: Copyright AFS/AFF, Amsterdam/Basel.

Darfur: Photojournalists Respond

Fall – November 2009

Genocide in DarfurPowerful photos from eight photojournalists who participated in the book Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan document atrocities from more recent decades.

Presented courtesy of Holocaust Museum Houston and generously sponsored by the McCormick Foundation.

Photo courtesy of Sven Torfinn/Panos Pictures.

Building the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

April 2009 – Fall 2009

Illinois Holocaust Museum PosterThe first of our rotating special exhibitions traced the history of the Museum to its roots in the attempted neo-Nazi march in Skokie in the late 1970s and local survivors’ responses to that watershed event.



  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • Museum Blog