Everybody Had a Name, Melbourne Holocaust Museum


Project Completed: 2023

Floor Area: 380 sqm

Thylacine’s role

  • Design management
  • Interpretive design
  • Graphic design
  • Media design
  • Lighting design
  • Showcase installation
  • Select fabrication

The Melbourne Holocaust Museum is Australia’s largest institution dedicated to Holocaust education, research and remembrance and the result of a 10-year project with Kerstin Thompson Architects. Everybody Had a Name, designed by Thylacine, is the centrepiece and embodies the museum’s mission to amplify the voices of Holocaust survivors.

Our team faced a profound challenge – to create an experience that would authentically convey the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. We approached the exhibition design with a deep sense of responsibility.

Collaborating closely with the curatorial team and architects, we wove survivor testimonies into a compelling narrative across six thematic chapters.

Combining space, light and colour with innovative multimedia technology, we created an immersive and educational experience that prioritises visitor safety guided by the Holocaust pedagogy of “safely in, safely out”.

Moments of connection to survivors’ stories are offered through evocative settings and interactive experiences that put visitors in the centre of the narrative.

The multimedia overlay ‘In the Footsteps’ navigates the confronting history by following the personal account of a single survivor. As visitors arrive they receive a postcard that becomes their key to unlocking one survivor’s testimony.

Narrative permeates every interior element, from the built form to colour and lighting. Starting in expansive, warmly-lit spaces reminiscent of the richness of pre-war life, visitors journey through increasingly angular and dark spaces symbolising war and oppression, before emerging into the bright, white space of post-war renewal. Diminishing fibre optics represent the lost lives, while projections of Stars of David and prisoner numbers create transient light thresholds for visitors to move through.

Our team created sculptural installations as narrative signposts and visual connections to historical events. A recreation of a destroyed Synagogue ceiling floats above visitors’ heads. A monolith of smashed glass evokes the violent aesthetic of Kristallnacht. A forest of authentic birch tree trunks explores the concept of hiding – of people as well as truth.

Everybody Had a Name is testament to our team’s dedication to design excellence and storytelling. By pushing the boundaries of exhibition design, we not only supported the educational mission of the Melbourne Holocaust Museum but also established a new standard for retelling sensitive historical narratives.

Everybody Had a Name serves as a powerful reminder of the human cost of the Holocaust while inspiring greater understanding and hope for the future.

“Every aspect of the design, from the architectural elements to the graphic displays, has been thoughtfully curated to evoke empathy, provoke reflection, and inspire action. Thylacine’s commitment to aesthetics not only elevates the exhibition but also honours the stories of those who endured unimaginable suffering and ensures that their legacy endures for generations to come.”

Jayne Josem, former CEO, MHM

Project Partners – Kerstin Thompson Architects, Illuminated Design, Mental Media, Show Works

Photographs courtesy of Melbourne Holocaust Museum, photographed by Simon Shiff