Playing History: Can play help teach about the Holocaust and difficult histories?

Professional Forum
Silvina Fernandez-Duque, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, USA

Games and play are established as effective tools for learners and many museums have used games successfully in their education and engagement programs, and yet there are good reasons to hesitate to use play in certain contexts. Teaching the history of the Holocaust demands a high level of sensitivity and keen awareness of the complexity of the subject matter. A play-based approach to this history is not immediately evident as a path for learning, but the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum decided to tackle this question in partnership with Parsons School of Design’s PETLab: how can games be used to teach the history and lessons of the Holocaust and engage youth aged 14-21 years?

This session invites those who have used games in museum settings and those who are considering it to learn from this case study. This session will cover several themes, including:

How a play-based approach can enhance learning and historical lessons specifically
How museums can embrace an iterative and collaborative design process
How to evaluate games and interactive projects

Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a discussion about using a play-based approach in museum education and prototyping projects for testing and evaluation. Attendees are invited to share their experiences using games in museums and educational programs and to explore questions of appropriateness and implementation.