For a history full of unspeakable sorrow, museums and their exhibition serve as a container for preserving the memory of the pain. On the one hand, the victims are remembered in a certain way. On the other hand, by speculating on the tragedy, visitors are expected to understand their responsibility in the society further.
Generally speaking, very few people deliberately retained tormenting and unpleasant memories. Apart from individual traumatic experience, collective catastrophic events are also treated with great caution. Although providing the exhibition of a dark history, the theme of that museums and exhibitions focus on peace.
This type of museum surely does not offer a delightful visiting experience for tourists because they are there to commemorate the people who suffered a lot and even lost their lives during the war.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is one of them.
Almost every tourist, who makes a trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, will inevitably visit this notorious museum. The museum was originally a high school, which was altered to a concentration camp and a mass execution center by the Khmer Rouge. Then it was renamed Security Prison 21. It was estimated that during the Khmer Rouge administration, out of over ten thousand of people who had been imprisoned there, only seven survived. After the war, as a museum, this concentration camp was reopened to the public to memorializing people persecuted by the brutal regime of Khmer Rouge. (Tyner & Rice,2015)
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is not the one of its kind. As an official memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum offers abundant material ranging from artifacts, archival documents, historical photographs to library items for the study and interpretation of Holocaust history. Also, it provides an ideal place to help people around the world overcome hatred, prevent the recurrence of genocide, enhance human dignity and strengthen global democratic awareness.
(photo source:the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
The International Slavery Museum bears the same mission. It focuses on the history of slavery and human right issues, and had welcomed over 3.8 million visitors during eleven years and made tremendous effort to improve the awareness of the legacy of slavery and its enduring impact. (http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/about/index.aspx)
(photo source: International Slavery Museum)
When the exhibition exposes the public to the darkness of a history, the wounds are reproduced, and the pain is remembered. Therefore, the three museums described in this article can also be seen as providing an educational journey for visitors, since they enable the experience guide for the future.
Tyner, & Rice. (2015). To live and let die: Food, famine, and administrative violence in Democratic Kampuchea, 1975–1979. Political Geography, 48, 1-10.