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Stories Of Survival: Object. Image. Memory.


A teddy bear, a set of house keys, a typewriter – everyday objects that ordinarily provide convenience or comfort take on deeper meaning and become storytellers, in their own right, when they are remnants left from a world destroyed.

Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory. reflects upon the individual stories of 59 Survivors of the Holocaust and genocides and conflicts including Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq and Syria, Rwanda, and South Sudan, told through photographs and personal reflections.

Created by the Illinois Holocaust Museum and photographer Jim Lommasson, the exhibition includes large-format photographic prints of precious objects from a Survivor, on which the Survivor or their family member(s) reflect on the objects’ meaning directly on the print. The photographs invite audiences to explore how time and distance influence meaning and experience of these objects and their stories.

This landmark exhibition traveled across the United States after its premiere at Illinois Holocaust Museum in 2018. While the original artifacts no longer travel, a framed photography and a banner version of the exhibition are available for display.

Media Coverage:
Ursula Meyer’s Childhood teddy bear retrieved after surviving the Holocaust in Theresienstadt. Many family items had been saved by neighbors, including the bear, which Max and Ursula Meyer then retrieved after returning to Bremen, Germany in 1945.
White cardigan worn by Raissa Umutoni when she was murdered in the Rwandan Genocide on June 12, 1994 and was uncovered in a mass grave in January 2017. On loan, courtesy of Immaculee Mukantaganira.
Concentration camp, uniform jacket and pants worn by Stone, Henry (Henryk Steinlauf); Flossenburg/ Dachau, Germany, 1945. It has a pink triangle featuring the letter ‘P’; and his number ‘47849’.
Purple, velvet, Ottoman bath wrappers (Bohça) from Banderma, Ottoman Empire, late 19th century, brought to the United States by sisters Mariam Balian (née Kibarian) and Elizabeth Knekleian (née Kibarian) in 1921 after escaping the Armenian Genocide. On loan, courtesy of Greg Bedian.
Marklin train set which belonged to Ralph Rehbock dated 1938- Germany. The lot consists of train cars, tracks, and train set accessories.
Digital photograph of Diyar Al Khalo praying at the Lalish Temple, a sacred shrine of the Yazidis, in Iraq, February 11, 2013. On loan, courtesy of Diyar Al Khalo.

Currently on display at:

Raritan Valley Community College: Through May 10, 2024

University of Wisconsin Hillel: Through July 12, 2024

Previously on display at:

Edgewood College: April 16 – 25, 2024

Stanley Peace Center: February 5 – 16, 2024

Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art: February 12 – August 6, 2023

United Nations Headquarters: April 6 – June 15, 2023

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: March 23, 2022 – January 22, 2023

Navy Pier: April 7 – June 29, 2022

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage: October 25, 2021 – February 27, 2022

Holocaust Museum Houston: January 28, 2021 – April 12, 2021

Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum: September 17, 2019 – January 5, 2020

Illinois Holocaust Museum’s presentation of Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory. at Navy Pier is made possible with generous support from:

Lead Sponsors

David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation

Joan & Bill Brodsky and Family


Linda & Richard Price Family Fund
Leonard and Diane Sherman Family Foundation
Norman & Virginia Bobins, The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation
Anna & Mark Hertsberg
Larry & Donna Mayer

Community Partners

Armenian National Committee of Illinois; Association of Descendants of the Shoah-Illinois; Ayual Community Development Association; Bosnian-American Genocide Institute and Education Center; Cambodian Association of Illinois/National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial; Center for Forgiveness and Peace; Chicago Association for the Lost Boys of Sudan; Chicago South Sudanese Community Center; Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; Douglas A. Garofalo Fellowship, UIC; Flyback Productions; Global Survivors for Peace; Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance (MIRA Chicago); Sudanese Community Association of Illinois; Sheérit HaPleitah of Metropolitan Chicago

Photo credits: Jim Lommasson; Emily Mohney


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