Holocaust Gallery. Courtesy of The Lost Shtetl Museum.
The firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) (www.raai.com), in the United States, will oversee the creation of the permanent Lost Shtetl exhibitions, the presentation of exhibits, and interactive media and installations in the museum’s galleries. The New York-based firm has worked with such renowned institutions as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in England, and other museums, art galleries, heritage foundations, cultural centers, and historical parks in Asia, Europe, and North America.
RAA drew its inspiration from the cultural heritage of the Jewish community of Šeduva during the interwar period, a time of great change in Lithuania. A trove of photographs – of individuals and groups, family portraits, class photos – valuable maps of the town, and a collection of written records of people and addresses are all that remains of Šeduva’s Jewish community. This material and accompanying video recordings in which descendants of Šeduva’s Jewish inhabitants remember the extraordinary lives of their families, will now become part of the story presented by the Lost Shtetl. These stories and accounts, to be shared for the first time at the museum, will accompany visitors throughout their journey through the museum.
“We have been particularly inspired by the work of Grigory Kanovich, especially the poetic, mournful lament in his novel Shtetl Love Song,” say the RAA designers. Kanovich, who was born and spent his childhood in the Jonava shtetl, expressed that lament thus: "In that eternal habitation of the dead you can hear now only the rustling of old shriveled pines and see the black and tattered nests of noisy ravens and feel the memories that surround you. ... Memories, memories! Are they not the most long-lasting cemetery in the world?’” In Kanovich's unfading memories, the shtetl is still alive, filled with his Jewish kinsmen.