SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A teddy bear. A set of dominoes. A jade pendant. Ordinary objects made extraordinary by owners who faced the worst that humanity has to offer but somehow managed to survive.
Now these objects and dozens more have been gathered for “Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory.,” a special exhibit opening March 23 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Using personal treasures and keepsakes, the exhibit tells the stories of people who survived acts of genocide … and the stories of friends and family who didn’t make it. Why did the survivors keep these particular mementos? What role did they play in the struggle to survive?
Visitors to “Stories of Survival” will see the objects but also beautiful photographs of the treasures surrounded by handwritten notes from the owners or their relatives.
Learn the stories of:
- Ursula Meyer, who hid her teddy bear during the Holocaust. She survived to reclaim the bear but lost most of her family
- Siyin Duong, whose father survived the killing fields of Cambodia and managed to save a jade pendant that had been in the family for generations
- Othman Al Ani, who fled violence in Iraq and brought along a small set of dominoes to remind him of good times with friends he may never see again.
“Stories of Survival” was created by the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. It will be at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum through Jan. 22, 2023. The exhibit is included with the regular museum admission price.
“We are so proud to bring this exhibit to Springfield,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “Focusing on unique, treasured objects makes the horrors of genocide incredibly real and powerful. Telling the stories of survivors reminds us there is always hope, even in the face of evil like the Holocaust, the killing fields or neighbor-on-neighbor murder in Rwanda.”
“Stories of Survival” will be accompanied by a series of special events. They include an appearance by the curator and photographer who oversaw creation of the exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and a kid-friendly program on how to turn a family keepsake or photo into a work of art.
For more about the exhibit and related events, please visit
The mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is, “To inspire civic engagement through the diverse lens of Illinois history and sharing with the world the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln.” We pursue this mission through a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship built on the bedrock of the ALPLM’s unparalleled collection of historical materials.
For more information, visit www.PresidentLincoln.Illinois.gov or follow the ALPLM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory.” is a project of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and photographer Jim Lommasson. The Holocaust Museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice, and indifference.
Learn more at www.ilholocaustmuseum.org.