The exhibition Kindertransport – Rescuing Children on the Brink of War, originally designed for Yeshiva University Museum and Leo Baeck Institute, is now on view at the American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis. The traveling exhibit illuminates the story of the Kindertransport (German for “Children’s Transport”), the organized rescue effort that brought thousands of Jewish children from Nazi Europe to Great Britain in the late 1930s.
The award-winning exhibit design explores the difficult history of this rescue effort through moving personal stories, artifacts, and engaging media, asking what it must have been like for the parents forced to lose their children in order to save them. C&G visual identity system for the exhibition is easily replicated across different locations, drawing on the motifs of children’s ID tags and directional signs. The identity includes subtle color and typographic references to British mass transit. The arrows of the exhibit logo face westward, the direction of England from German territory.
Drawing on the manila tags that served as ID labels for refugee children and their belongings during Kindertransport, C&G created a striking red wall with thousands of tags to draw viewers into the exhibit narrative. The tags represent the scale, anonymity, and eventual bittersweet success of the transport effort, which was able to rescue children but not their families.
The entire floor of the exhibition is a map of Europe, illustrating the route taken by the refugee children. Referencing transit maps from the 1930s, these lines plot out major stops of the Kindertransport. The current venue of the exhibition is focused on the 500 children who took the route to Sweden on the Kindertransport, with an added section titled “The Swedes Saved My Life.”
The traveling exhibition also includes artifacts from the Kindertransport, including letters, clothing, and toys. Four interactive kiosks also contain audio interviews, conducted by C&G, of surviving Kinder who tell the personal story of their journey, and the days before and after.
The project is one in a series of exhibitions that explore difficult stories of Jewish experience in the WWII period, including Against the Odds at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, From Memory to Action at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Stolen Heart for the Leo Baeck Institute.