A Portable Museum Tour
Alexandra Holliday ’14 is a history major interning at The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, so it’s a safe assumption that she’s a history buff. But when the senior first arrived at Agnes Scott College, she says history had always seemed distant and cold before she took a course that changed her mind about history and her career aspirations.
“I didn’t start out as a history lover … then I took Dr. Kennedy’s course about World War II history and fell in love with memoirs,” Holliday says. “ I loved reading the stories of people who weren’t well-known and who hadn’t gotten a chance to tell their stories on a high platform. I loved their passion about what they’d experienced, much of it unpleasant … I loved the idea of finding purpose and meaning from the telling of those stories.”
Holliday says the stories of Holocaust survivors in particular resonated deeply with her and sparked an interest in learning more about World War II and the Holocaust. In addition to studying the time period more seriously, Holliday also decided that she’d like to pursue an internship related to World War II or the Holocaust and approached the Breman Museum about interning.
Holliday dove right in to assisting with the museum’s Holocaust education center, which provides resources and training to teachers and schools related to teaching the Holocaust. Holliday did many things for the center but was particularly adept at using her knowledge of technology to develop new ways to share resources with teachers and students. So when the museum received a grant to create an app, Holliday was tapped to head up the project.
“Many visitors to the museum are tourists. We wanted to find a way to make it convenient for them to find some of the wonderful Jewish history that lives here – that may have even been built over … the app was the best way of making that possible,” says Aaron Berger, executive director of the Breman Museum. “We needed someone talented and dedicated to work on it, and Alex had proved herself many times over with her skill technologically.”
Holliday says she was intimidated at first but came to realize that her knowledge of technology and how younger people communicate made her a good choice to develop the app and that she could be a valuable asset to museums hoping to reach a wider audience.
After getting over her apprehensions, Holliday became excited about sharing the history of the Jewish community in Atlanta, including the founding of Rich’s department store by a Jewish, Russian immigrant in 1867 and the lynching of Leo Frank in 1915.
“The Jewish community played a role in the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement … its role in making Atlanta the city it is today cannot be overestimated,” Holliday says.
The Breman Museum app alerts users when they’re near a historic site or helps users find a particular site. Once there, the app provides historic photos and details about the historical significance of the site.
Holliday says her experiences at the Breman Museum have convinced her that she’d like to continue working at museums after graduation.
“My dream job is to work at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.,” Holliday says. “The work that they’re doing is easily the standard for Holocaust research right now. They’re keeping it relevant and present, and they’re ensuring that people don’t forget.”