At Some Museums, the Art Is Now on the Outside

To commemorate this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Monday, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in Lower Manhattan, has commissioned a series of black-and-white photographic portraits of some 30 Holocaust survivors, called “Eyewitness,” that it is displaying in the ground-, second- and third-floor windows on the facade of its building on Battery Place.

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The artist B.A. Van Sise with his installation “Eyewitness,” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The museum commissioned photographic portraits of 30 Holocaust survivors.

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Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The trend dates back centuries: to 18th-century “son et lumière” shows and fireworks spectacles with wall-like sets in Europe, according to Erkki Huhtamo, a professor in the department of design media arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. These were followed in the 19th century by outdoor projections done with a magic-lantern slide projector. Today’s technology includes projection mapping techniques that can display images and animations on a surface that is not flat or white.

Even before the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, opened, it projected a seven-minute video on its facade, depicting milestones in black history to celebrate completion of its exterior construction.

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A video display, “Commemorate & Celebrate Freedom,” was projected on the facade of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington in 2015.

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Drew Angerer for The New York Times

Michael S. Glickman, the president and chief executive of the Museum of Jewish Heritage — whose survivor portraits, by the photographer B. A. Van Sise, have been digitally reproduced on vinyl and measure as much as 5 feet wide and 13 feet high — said this series represents the museum’s desire “to be a fully acceptable site of public testimony, to hear the stories, meet the people, get a more intense, more meaningful, more impactful connection to history.”

One Holocaust survivor whose portrait is on display, Frederick Terna, a 93-year-old Brooklyn artist who spent his childhood in Prague and speaks to groups of teachers at the museum, said, “It is my function to be a communicator about what happened,” adding, “If you believe in something, you must act on it.”

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Photographic portraits of Holocaust survivors in the windows of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, left to right: Bronia Brandman, Sami Steigmann, Ruth Schloss.

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Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

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