Americans and the Holocaust: Traveling Exhibition Application Guidelines

Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries. What did Americans know? What more could have been done?

APPLICATION RECEIPT DEADLINE FOR 2024-2026 TOUR: 11:59pm on October 14, 2023
Date posted: March 8, 2023 

Public and academic libraries will be invited to apply to be part of 2024 - 2026 Americans and the Holocaust tour starting in June 2023. A link to apply and application instructions can be found here

To be notified when applications open, sign up for ALA’s Programming Librarian newsletter. Non-library organizations interested in being part of the tour should identify a public or academic library to partner with on an application. 

Questions? Contact the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

I. Project Overview

  1. The Americans and the Holocaust Exhibition 
  2. Orientation Workshop 
  3. Support Materials 
  4. Requirements for Host Sites 

II. Award Information
III. Eligibility
IV. Application and Submission Information
V. Application Review
VI. Exhibition Sponsors

I. Project Overview

With support from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the American Library Association Public Programs Office (ALA PPO) is seeking sites to host Americans and the Holocaust, a traveling exhibition that examines the motives, pressures, and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war, and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition will travel to 50 sites, and public and academic libraries are invited to apply. 

The 1,100-square-foot traveling exhibition is based on the exhibition that opened in April 2018 at the USHMM in Washington, DC. Americans and the Holocaust examines various aspects of American society: the government, the military, refugee aid organizations, the media, and the general public. It aims, like all of the USHMM’s exhibitions, to motivate audiences to think critically about the history as individual citizens, as a country, and as members of a global community.

Americans and the Holocaust traveling exhibition toured libraries across the United States October 2021 to January 2024, and it is extending its tour to another 50 libraries between June 2024 to July 2026. Selected libraries will host the exhibition for five to six weeks and will also be required to implement a minimum of four public programs to accompany the exhibition during the display period. At least one of the programs must be for high school or university students. The exhibition requires approximately 1,100 square feet of space for display. Each site will receive a programming allowance of $3,000 to support public programs related to the exhibition. 

The Americans and the Holocaust Exhibition

Exhibition Content

The Americans and the Holocaust traveling exhibition addresses many important themes in American history, including Americans’ responses to refugees, war, and genocide. It also provides a comprehensive look at what shaped American attitudes and actions towards the escalating persecution of Europe’s Jews. The exhibition explores the following questions:

  • What did Americans know? 
  • Did Americans help Jewish refugees? 
  • Why did Americans go to war? 
  • How did Americans respond to the Holocaust?

Drawing on a remarkable collection of primary sources from the 1930s and ‘40s, Americans and the Holocaust dispels the myth that Americans knew little or were entirely indifferent to the threat of Nazism and the plight of Europe’s Jews. The exhibition includes images of historic artifacts, documents, photographs, and period film footage. Focusing on the stories of individuals and groups of Americans who took action in response to Nazism, Americans and the Holocaust challenges visitors to consider the responsibilities and obstacles faced by individuals—from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to ordinary Americans—and what they did and did not do to respond to Nazism and the persecution and mass murder of Europe’s Jews.  

Although this exhibition focuses on Americans’ lives in the 1930s and the 1940s, the resonances for our culture today are apparent throughout. The USHMM and ALA PPO hope to challenge people to not only ask “what would I have done?” but also, “what will I do?” 

Physical Details

  • The exhibition requires 1,100 (max) square feet of floor space for optimal display. The panels will be capable of multiple configurations to adapt to a variety of floor plans. See some sample configurations and required square footage for reference.
  • The exhibition is composed of 18 exhibition panels (9 double-sided, freestanding units), 4 media programs, and 1 touchscreen interactive. One panel unit will be curved (2.7’ D x 10’ W x 7.9’ H), and the remaining 8 panel units will be flat (1.1’ D x 9.8’ W x 7.9’ H). The exhibition does not include original artifacts or display cases. 
  • Each panel side is composed of 3 vertically-oriented graphics. The graphics hang from steel hubs and lock to the seams via vertical magnetic strips. The exhibition is accompanied by a thorough setup guide and instructional videos
  • Host sites are asked to provide extension cords, power strips, Windex wipes, gaffers tape, and electrical floor cord covers beyond those supplied, as needed. The exhibition does not require any additional lighting. 
  • The exhibition will travel in 10 rolled containers (42” x 26” x 22”, approx. 130 lbs each);4 cases for media stands (49.5” x 20.25” x 13.5”, 91 lbs each); and 1 case for the monitors and (4) tablets (54” x 18.5” x 35”, 95 lbs). All containers are expected to fit within a 9’ x 12’ storage space. 
  • The exhibition will require approximately one day for two people to set up. More helpers are recommended.
  • While the exhibition panels are capable of being arranged in multiple configurations in order to accommodate different library floor plans, the entire exhibition must be displayed at the same host site for the duration of the host period. Exhibitions panels cannot be shared among different library branches, partner organizations, etc. Visitors must be able to view and access all exhibition panels. Host sites are expected to comply with ADA standards. 
  • The exhibition includes 4 films and 1 touchscreen interactive. One film is displayed on a 32” monitor mounted to the introductory panel.
  • The remaining 3 films and touchscreen interactive are displayed on Windows Surface Pro 6 tablets locked within freestanding kiosks. Each tablet measures 11.5” x 7.9” x 0.33”  and each freestanding kiosk is approximately 50 lbs. and ADA compliant. 
  • The media programs are:
    • A brief, 90-second film (silent) showing the context of the United States during the 1920s and 1930s (especially isolationism in the aftermath of World War I; prejudice, antisemitism, and xenophobia in the US; and economic insecurity during the Great Depression) that informed and shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism. It is displayed on a 32” monitor mounted to the introductory panel and plays on a loop.. (1:32) 
    • A touchscreen interactive map (silent) showing visitors that American newspapers reported on many stories related to the Nazis’ persecution and murder of Jews in Europe.  The map includes newspaper coverage in each state of the boycott of Jewish businesses (April 1933), the Kristallnacht pogrom (Nov. 1938), and public reporting on mass murder (Nov. 1942). This interactive is displayed on a tablet mounted to a freestanding kiosk. 
    • A short, animated film (audio) showing visitors that many ships carrying refugees crossed the Atlantic Ocean between March 1938 and October 1941 and places the story of the refugee ship MS St. Louis into historical context. This film is displayed on a tablet mounted to a freestanding kiosk with an attached Soundstik. (4:28) 
    • A mini-documentary (sound) depicting Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s efforts to move the United States toward preparedness for World War II, beginning when Europe went to war on September 1, 1939, and concluding in December 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This film is displayed on a tablet mounted to a freestanding kiosk with an attached Soundstik. (5:04) 
    • An animated map (silent) overlaying the movement of Allied troops during World War II and the locations and opening / closing dates of six major Nazi killing centers. This film is displayed on a tablet mounted to a freestanding kiosk. (4:25) 
  • The films with audio have closed captioning and utilize Soundstik listening devices. The introductory film plays on a loop, while the other films are initiated by visitors.  

  • The exhibition text has been translated into Spanish and is available as an accompanying PDF.

Orientation Workshop

There will be an in-person orientation workshop, facilitated by ALA and museum project staff, held at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC on May 15-16, 2024. The project director from each exhibiting library must attend this two-day training. Attendees will receive a stipend to cover the costs of travel to and from Washington, DC, and two nights in a hotel. Meals and snacks at the workshop will be provided. 

At this training, librarians will tour the onsite version of Americans and the Holocaust, learning about the exhibition content and themes. They will also learn about how to set up and take down the traveling exhibition and about resources to support their programming needs. Lastly, they will learn about the required program requirements and reporting. 

Support Materials

  • A collection of online Site Support Resources includes:
    • Critical ALA contact information, shipping and receiving information, insurance requirements and other logistical information 
    • Instructions on how to properly set up and take down the exhibition 
    • Parameters on programming requirements, allowable uses for the programming allowance, suggested book and film lists, scripts for guided tours, teachers’ guide, programming ideas and other helpful resources 
    • Reporting requirements and instructions
  • Professionally designed graphics – including printable promotional materials, signage and web and social media graphics – that will be customized for your library to include your logo, tour dates, web URL and other information. (NOTE: To ensure branding consistency across the tour and to properly credit national tour sponsors, host sites are required to use only the graphics provided. Host sites that have graphic needs not met by the existing materials may work with ALA’s graphic designer to create new materials that meet ALA and USHMM approval.) 

  • Communications support materials, including a template press release, social media posts, public service announcement and media alert, that can be edited and shared by host sites to raise local awareness 

  • An online discussion group in ALA Connect to foster conversation, support and an exchange of ideas between host sites 

Requirements for Host Sites

All libraries chosen to host Americans and the Holocaust will be required to do the following:

  • Sign a contract with the American Library Association agreeing to programming, publicity, reporting and other project requirements.
  • Present a minimum of four public programs, events or activities related to the themes explored in the exhibition, which can include programs with scholars, community or civic organizations, family programs and other public events. 
    • All selected sites will be required to host at least one program for high school or university students as part of their minimum of four public programs. Program plans may include (but are not limited to) an expert presentation, author talk or lecture series, Survivor or 2nd generation speaker, film screening with a Q & A, book discussion, guided tours/field trips, teacher workshop, or special course that integrates the exhibition content into the curriculum.  
    • Programs should explore topics related to Americans and the Holocaust, such as the historical debate of whether or not the United States should enter World War II, how popular culture shaped Americans’ understanding of World War II, the emergence of public opinion polling, and the stories of Americans who tried to rescue victims of Nazism, and how women’s roles changed during this era; or a community conversation on exhibition themes — such as what was reported on the Holocaust in the region — and their relevance to your community today. 
    • All programs planned in conjunction with the exhibition must be respectful of and accurately represent the history of the Holocaust, the memorial nature of the Museum's work, and the Holocaust survivor community. Programs should uphold the Museum’s Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust
    • Libraries should avoid developing programs that are political in nature, which can be distracting from the importance of this history and limit the opportunity to reach visitors from a variety of backgrounds and political affiliations.
  • Collaborate with local high schools and/or universities to engage students with the exhibition and/or its related programming.
  • Market the exhibition and programs in the community.
  • Allow the public to view the exhibition and attend programs free of charge.
  • Provide four reports throughout the project period: a pre-program form; a pre and post exhibition condition form; and a final programming report to the exhibition sponsors. ALA will provide the necessary forms and will send periodic reporting deadline reminders. 
  • Appoint one staff member as the Project Director of the exhibition. The Project Director is responsible for attending the orientation workshop in May 2024 at the USHMM in Washington, DC, attending virtual programming meetings with ALA and Museum staff, overseeing programming and marketing of the exhibition, assuring that the exhibition is set up, displayed and taken down according to the project guidelines, and submitting the required reports by the deadlines. Due to the expectations of hosting the exhibition, Project Directors are encouraged to identify additional staff to support the project.  
  • Agree to all publicity requirements, including use of designated exhibition credits and/or logos on all local publicity materials, both print and online.
  • Obtain approval from USHMM and ALA prior to accepting local sponsorship in support of exhibition-related programming and strictly adhere to local sponsor recognition requirements. Note that, to ensure proper recognition of national tour sponsors, local sponsors may support specific exhibition programs, but cannot be presented as funders of the exhibition. 
  • Demonstrate that the library has sufficient space to display the exhibition (approximately 1,100 square feet in one area of the library, plus space to store the shipping crates), and can provide security for the exhibition (by monitoring the exhibition at least every half-hour during peak times and every hour at less busy times). 
  • Provide sufficient electrical outlets nearby to power the exhibition components requiring electricity.  
  • Be responsible for the condition of the exhibition. Sites will be held responsible for damage to or loss of the exhibition when it is under their control. Minor repairs will be carried out and paid for by the ALA. 
  • Add the exhibition to its institutional insurance coverage or purchase an insurance rider. The value of the exhibition is approximately $75,000. The exhibition should be insured from ten days before the first day of the exhibition period to ten days after the closing date. 

II. Award Information

Fifty public and academic libraries will be selected to host the exhibition, starting June 2024 through July 2026. Each host will receive the following: 

  • The traveling exhibition for a five- to six-week loan period (shipping costs are paid by ALA and the USHMM). Each library’s specific host term will be coordinated by the ALA in conjunction with the libraries that will be receiving the exhibition. 
  • A $3,000 allowance for exhibition-related programming. Libraries are encouraged to use a portion of the funds to transport local students to see the exhibit or attend a program, if needed.  
  • Access to an online Site Support Notebook, with shipping and installation instructions, suggestions for programming and a full publicity kit, including sample promotional materials and templates for press and social media outreach.  
  • Logistical and programming support from the USHMM and the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the tour, including the two-day workshop, at least two virtual meetings prior to hosting the exhibition, and participation in an online Connect discussion list for sites. 
  • A stipend for the library project director to attend an orientation workshop at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in May 2024 in Washington, DC.  
  • Assistance with the repair of reasonable wear and tear to the exhibition. 

III. Eligibility

Americans and the Holocaust is available to public and academic libraries in the United States. Individuals and federal entities are not eligible to apply. 

IV. Application and Submission Information

Public and academic libraries will be invited to apply to be part of 2024 - 2026 Americans and the Holocaust tour starting in June 2023. A link to apply and application instructions can be found here

To be notified when applications open, sign up for ALA’s Programming Librarian newsletter. Non-library organizations interested in being part of the tour should identify a public or academic library to partner with on an application. 

If you have questions in the meantime, you may contact the ALA Public Programs Office at

V. Application Review

Each application will be assessed by a review panel of librarians and staff of ALA and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria: 

  • Clarity and completeness of the application. Has the applicant supplied all required information, including all sections of the proposal narrative?  

  • The quality of proposed programming to accompany the exhibition. The proposed programming should focus on the themes explored in the exhibition, follow the Museum’s Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust, as well as the requirements listed above  

  • The availability of appropriate exhibition space and staff support. 

  • The involvement of appropriate local programming partners (you may consider contacting a Holocaust Education Center in your state or region to support your programming) 

  • The quality of the marketing and outreach plans, and the ability to reach high-school and/or college students 

  • The community’s interest in and need for quality Holocaust educational resources  

The panel may take geographic and demographic distribution into consideration when selecting exhibition sites.  

Libraries demonstrating a need for Holocaust education in the community, strong local partnerships and programming plans that fit the programming guidelines and reach target audiences will be considered favorably. 

VI. Exhibition Sponsors

This traveling exhibition is made possible by the generous support of lead sponsor Jeannie & Jonathan Lavine. Additional major funding was provided by the Bildners—Joan & Allen z”l, Elisa Spungen & Rob, Nancy & Jim; and Jane and Daniel Och.  

Substantial support was also provided by: 

  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP        

  • Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 

  • Ruth Miriam Bernstein 

  • Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation 

  • In Memory of Simon Konover 

  • Philip and Cheryl Milstein Family  

  • Benjamin and Seema Pulier Charitable Foundation 

  • David and Fela Shapell Family Foundation 

  • Deborah Simon 

  • Laurie and Sy Sternberg 

  • Gary and Cathy Jacob 

The Museum's exhibitions are also supported by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund, established in 1990. 

VII. Contact Us

If you have questions about the exhibition or the application, contact:
American Library Association Public Programs Office
1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045