New memorial garden to feature reinstalled ‘Pillars of Witness’

We are close to a milestone in our major redevelopment project – McCorkell Construction handing over the keys. Aiming for a public launch late 2022, we now progress to fitting out the building, attending to the unique details of each space to create an embracing experience guiding Holocaust remembrance and education.

The building currently stands as a solid testament to the endurance of Holocaust survivors. Spacious and warm wooden interiors express warmth for those entering our new home. Reflective surfaces throughout encourage contemplation. Exhibition spaces, which will impart difficult histories, are balanced with areas to reflect, including a garden featuring the reinstalled Pillars of Witness.

'Pillars of Witness' on former museum building façade
‘Pillars of Witness’ on former museum building façade

In 1999, internationally renowned artist Andrew Rogers created the Pillars of Witness, commissioned for the MHM building. A celebrated Australian sculptor, Rogers’ body of work comprises over 600 sculptures – landmark contributions to contemporary art and culture on a global scale – including six Holocaust memorials. For many years, Pillars of Witness, fixtured to the façade of the museum, imprinted visitors, coming and going from the building, with its evocative narrative of Holocaust trauma and Jewish survival. 

In 2004, Sculpture Magazine commented that in Pillars of Witness, Rogers, “wishes to establish a positive and open relationship with viewers, but if the occasion demands he is willing to confront them with unpalatable facts” with the sculpture’s figurative, combination of documentary panels.”

CEO & Museum Director Jayne Josem said reinstalling the artwork alongside the Eternal Flame in an outdoor space named The Garden of the Pillars of Witness allows, “visitors to better appreciate the entirety of the work… walk around it and spend time contemplating each of its detailed plaques in a more tranquil setting. There is so much depth to this piece, often lost as visitors passed through it, not pausing to really study it.” 

Andrew Rogers reworks 'Pillars of Witness'
Andrew Rogers reworks ‘Pillars of Witness’ in his studio

From a viewer perspective, Rogers believes that “a quiet, private space for contemplation as opposed to a building exterior [will give] people more time to think and reflect.” 

Speaking on the artwork today, as he reworks it for its new garden installation, Rogers reflects that the sculpture took months of “thought and activity” two decades ago as he consulted survivors and developed 70 panels depicting the stages of the Holocaust.

“It is still a resonating experience many years later,” reflects Rogers. “The sculpture is about memory for without memory we are nothing.”

Rogers’ artistic perspective, alongside the expert craftsmanship of Kerstin Thompson Architects and McCorkell Construction, have finessed the new building with visual representations of our mission and values. We express our profound gratitude for their dedication as we build our future. 

Learn more about our initiative to build a world-class museum here.

Details of 'Pillars of Witness' panels
Details of ‘Pillars of Witness’ panels