Taking Flight: The Butterfly Project

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Holocaust Museum Houston will mark its 20th year of teaching the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy with an exhibit 20 years in the making with the help from children across the world that commemorates the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust. 

Since 1995, children from every continent except Antarctica have brought or sent handmade butterflies to the Museum as part of “The Butterfly Project,” an effort to collect 1.5 million handmade butterflies to commemorate each of those children who perished.

Beginning Feb. 12, 2016, a selection of those inspiring creations go on display at the Museum in one of the most important art exhibitions ever displayed as part of “Taking Flight: The Butterfly Project.” HMH members are invited to a free preview reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Advance registration is requested. To RSVP online, visit www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx. To join and attend, visit www.hmh.org or email membership@hmh.org. The exhibit has been extended and will remain on view through December 31, 2016.

These exquisite, colorful butterflies were created using an incredible array of materials and innovation. The memory of the children who died in the Holocaust and the loss of their talents and possibilities is felt in the grace and beauty seen in each of the butterflies to be displayed. Diversity is demonstrated by the vast amount of difference in creativity and materials. The Museum received butterflies made of paper, wood, feathers, fabric, metal, stained glass and even concrete. The project has drawn international media attention.

The project was imagined by three Houston-area teachers and based on an inspiring poem written by Pavel Friedmann in 1942, when he was a prisoner in the Terezin Concentration Camp in former Czechoslovakia. More than 12,000 children under the age of 15 passed through the Terezin camp between the years 1942 and 1944. More than 90 percent of the children who were there perished during the Holocaust. 

The butterfly – with its story of rebirth and transformation into new life – has become a symbol of freedom from oppression, intolerance and hatred ever since Friedmann wrote his poem about life in the Terezin camp and the fact that he never saw another butterfly there.

Friedmann’s poem is contained in the book “I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942– 1944.” The project included a school curriculum geared to demonstrate the individuality and creativity of children, past and present, and to create a connection between today’s students and the Holocaust’s youngest victims. Class activities centered around children listed in the book, asking students to think about those children, what they were witnessing, why they were writing or drawing and what they were referring to.

Other important points made by the exercise included emphasizing that very few survived the Holocaust and that dreams and human potential died along with the children.

The Museum exhibit is being curated by Houston artist and photographer Syd Moen, who was selected after an extensive search and review process conducted in cooperation with the Houston Arts Alliance.

For more information about the Butterfly Project, visit http://www.hmh.org/butterflies. To watch a five-minute movie about the project’s history, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yUiIVLEcC8.

This exhibit was made possible in part through the City of Houston’s Initiative Grant Program of the Houston Arts Alliance. The exhibit is generously underwritten by Patron Sponsors Lila Rauch; Inna, Pauline & Nicholas Wizig; and Kenny and Ziggy’s New York Deli and is presented with special thanks to United Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston. KPRC Local 2 is serving as media sponsor for the exhibition.

February 12, 2016 - December 31, 2016

Mincberg Gallery

M: Closed
T-W: 10 am to 5 pm
Th: 10 am to 8 pm
F-Sa: 10 am to 5 pm
Su: Noon to 5 pm