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Museum Exhibit, Vilna: The Jerusalem of Lithuania, Opens at University of Hartford October 30


Posted 10/18/2017
Posted by Mary Ingarra


Virtual reality displays will enable visitors to the University's Museum of Jewish Civilization to experience what it's like to be a member of the archaeology team.

Virtual reality displays will enable visitors to the University's Museum of Jewish Civilization to experience what it's like to be a member of the archaeology team.

The search for mass burial sites at medieval forts in Kaunas, Lithuania, is just one of eight projects led by the University

The search for mass burial sites at medieval forts in Kaunas, Lithuania, is just one of eight projects led by the University

The University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies is celebrating the opening of its new museum exhibit, Vilna: The Jerusalem of Lithuania, on Monday, October 30, at 8:30 p.m. in the University’s Museum of Jewish Civilization located inside the Harrison Libraries. The museum displays will include artifacts, photos, video clips, and 360-degree videos to detail the eight projects the University has lead in Lithuania from 2015-17 including:

  • The 2016 discovery of the Holocaust Escape Tunnel in Ponar, which made international headlines and was the subject of a NOVA documentary
  • Excavation of Vilna’s Great Synagogue and surrounding bathhouse
  • The 2017 discovery of multiple locations of mass burials and hiding places at the HKP labor camp on the outskirts of Vilna, which is the subject of a 2018 television documentary 
  • The 2017 sub-surface geophysical scanning discoveries of mass burial sites used by the Nazis at pre-modern forts in Kaunas, and in a Jewish cemetery
  • Research at the site of a former Nazi POW camp for the remains of missing American airmen

University students were members of the excavation team and helped create the 360-degree videos to give visitors the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be on the University’s archaeology team. “The exhibit tells the story of Lithuanian Judaism and the Holocaust and will be inspiring for all visitors,” said University of Hartford Professor of Jewish History and Archaeologist Richard Freund. “One of the greatest challenges in doing Holocaust archaeology is to help people understand what was lost.” 

The museum opening will be preceded by a 7 p.m. lecture by Samuel Kassow, the Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College. Titled Vilna and Jewish Culture Before, During, and After the Holocaust, the lecture is in the Harry Jack Gray Center’s Wilde Auditorium. There will be a 6 p.m. musical performance by Heavy Shtetl Klezmer, and a welcome by Julius Pranevicius, consulate general of the Republic of Lithuania in New York. The event is free and open to the public.

For questions about the exhibit or lecture, email mgcjs@hartford.edu

Virtual reality displays will enable visitors to the University's Museum of Jewish Civilization to experience what it's like to be a member of the archaeology team.

Virtual reality displays will enable visitors to the University's Museum of Jewish Civilization to experience what it's like to be a member of the archaeology team.

The search for mass burial sites at medieval forts in Kaunas, Lithuania, is just one of eight projects led by the University

The search for mass burial sites at medieval forts in Kaunas, Lithuania, is just one of eight projects led by the University