Holocaust Museum Houston opens award-winning ‘Dimensions in Testimony’ exhibit featuring Houston-area Holocaust Survivor William J. Morgan   

Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) has opened USC Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony exhibition, featuring Houston-area Holocaust survivor William J. “Bill” Morgan. The pioneering technology of this exhibition allows visitors to have “virtual conversations” with Holocaust survivors by asking questions of their high-definition projections who then answer in real time via pre-recorded video images. HMH’s temporary museum at 9220 Kirby Drive, Suite 100, is a beta testing site for the exhibition that will be on view through April 30, 2019. The exhibition’s final home will be in the permanent Holocaust Gallery at the Museum’s new Lester and Sue Smith Campus, opening June 2019 in the Museum District.

“We are honored to feature Bill Morgan’s personal story of survival,” said Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga, CEO of Holocaust Museum Houston. “After a treacherous journey that finally led him to Houston, Bill married the love of his life, had five children and built a thriving business. He is a true marvel with much to share about resilience and the power of hope.” 

Bill Morgan, now 93 years old, is a survivor of the Stanislawow Ghetto. After obtaining a birth certificate from a Polish Christian, Bill escaped the ghetto and found work as a farmhand in Jezierzany, Ukraine. In 1944, he was drafted into the Russian army and was sent to the frontline. He deserted the army and went back to the farm where he worked until his liberation at the end of the war in 1945. 

Dimensions in Testimony revolutionizes the concept of oral history by integrating advanced filming techniques, specialized display technologies and next-generation natural language processing to provide an intimate experience.  Each specially recorded interview enables viewers to ask questions of the survivor about their life experiences and hear responses in real-time, lifelike conversation. Questions are answered naturally, as if the survivor is in the room, and through Artificial Intelligence, the more questions asked the better the technology becomes. 

“Having a face-to-face conversation with a survivor through Dimensions in Testimony creates a personal connection for visitors in ways that could previously only be done in person,” said USC Shoah Foundation Finci-Viterbi Executive Director Stephen Smith. “The experience is not about the technology, it’s about using that technology in the best way possible to provide a meaningful interaction with lasting impact.”

To date, 19 interactive survivor biographies were captured using 19 cameras with each survivor asked more than 1,000 questions addressing topics ranging from pre-war life through the Holocaust and beyond. Holocaust Museum Houston is one of only four locations in the United States hosting this extraordinary learning technology.

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