“Messengers of Memory: A 25-Year Retrospective of the Annual Chapman University Holocaust Art & Writing Contest” is currently on display at the newly expanded Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University through July 31, 2024.

This special curated exhibition highlights 25 years of prize-winning entries in the Holocaust Art & Writing Contest. The contest, co-sponsored by the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education and The 1939 Society, has provided an opportunity for middle and high school students across hundreds of schools throughout the United States and the world to engage with Holocaust survivor or rescuer testimony and respond creatively in art, film, poetry, or prose. Last year, the contest was estimated to have reached 7,000 students through the dedication of 260 teachers at 235 schools in 33 states and 9 countries outside the United States. Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is the proud academic home of the Rodgers Center.

“The Hilbert Museum is extremely honored to have the 25th anniversary exhibition of Chapman’s Holocaust Art & Writing Contest as our inaugural show in the new Burra Family Community Room,” said Mary Platt, Hilbert Museum Director. “We are thrilled that thousands of visitors of all ages will be seeing this exhibition and absorbing its vital message as they experience the works of these talented middle school and high school students. Hats off to Dr. [Marilyn] Harran and her team for this important exhibition, and congratulations to the Rodgers Center, the 1939 Society and the student participants on 25 years of this international competition.”   

Ashlyn Elggren – Night of the Broken Glass and Broken Hearts features as part of Messengers of Memory.

The exhibit features 75 pieces, including artworks, excerpts of submitted prose and poetry, and short student films (which can be viewed on a video loop) honoring Holocaust survivors and the enduring significance of their memories for a new generation, including student works that were awarded first place in the annual competition, which launched in 1999.

The private opening reception took place on Tuesday, April 16, one day before it was opened to the public.

“The opening of the retrospective was an emotional experience,” said Associate Professor Jan Osborn (English).

“The exhibition was curated to allow visitors to see images of witnesses who have been on our campus, many who are no longer with us. It also allows visitors to see the work of middle and high school students, work engaged with history and meaning, work that provides real hope for the future, hope that young writers and artists and filmmakers continue using their talents in conversation with world events,” she said.

Admission to this exhibit is free for all audiences (continuing a promise that Mark and Janet Hilbert made when the original Hilbert Museum debuted in 2016 to keep The Hilbert Collection as accessible to the public as possible), however, online reservations are recommended, due to the high demand of interest for this incredible display.

Hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturdays (the museum is closed Sundays and Mondays).

(Header Photo: By Jeanine Hill)