Marla Abraham of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum provides information on the Holocaust exhibit at Loma Colorado Main Library for KRQE-TV. Gary Herron photo.

If you can’t get out to see something of historical interest, sometimes history will come to you.
Such is the case at Loma Colorado Main Library in Rio Rancho, which has through Nov. 13 a traveling exhibition that examines motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.
“Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries” is an educational initiative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association.
Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull was proud that the City of Vision was fortunate to accomplish this — as one of 50 selected to host the exhibit, among 244 applicants.
“We’re actually the opening premier library as this takes off in the West,” Hull said. “It was a grant process that our librarians and directors worked very hard to get this year. It’s a nationally recognized exhibit from Washington, D.C. … So having it here is really a great opportunity for the city of Rio Rancho.”
Why Rio Rancho?
“We were looking for a lot of elements,” explained Marla Abraham, Western Region director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “One, that they could host something of this size — that they had the right facilities for it. That they have the staffing for it that could develop the programming that we need — and this had to be physically set up, with all sorts of pieces. And we were also looking for areas in the country that didn’t have such easy access to Holocaust education. … This is an American story and we wanted to make sure we had that accessibility.”
Hull said he’d learned quite a bit before his interview with an Albuquerque television station to highlight the Oct. 12 opening.
“Growing up — I was born in 1966 — whatever I was taught in school was the atrocities, the concentration camps, these are the things that come to mind,” he said.
“One of the things I learned here was, as you look at the exhibit and read some of the newspaper articles, I never knew Dr. Seuss was one of the people that drew out some of the political cartoons. … There are some historical pieces here that I was not aware of and I’m taking the opportunity to learn what I can. But, once again, when we were growing up, we were taught the bare minimum.”
“Never have I interacted with the actual newspaper clippings before, or interacted with the various commentaries as in Time and Newsweek (magazines) — these are learning moments for myself and many others as well,” Hull said.
The touring library exhibition is based on the special exhibition of the same name at the museum in Washington, D.C.
“This was supposed to start traveling in March 2020; it had literally gone to the first site,” Abraham said, and then the world was hit by the pandemic, postponing it till this month.
“Americans and the Holocaust” will be on display with a series of related special events, some of which took place last week.
Coming up:
• Thursday, 6 p.m.: Refugee Crisis Socratic seminar.
• Oct. 28, 6 p.m.: Jewish film history.
• Nov. 4, 6 p.m.: “Japanese Internment Camps in New Mexico,” with Victor Yamada and the N.M. Japanese Americans Citizens League.
• Nov. 13, 5:30 p.m.: “Rebbe’s Orkestra” and dancers from Rikud, led by Beth Cohen of Congregation Nahalat Shalom.
In addition to the traveling exhibition on loan, the Rio Rancho library received a cash grant to support public programs.
For more information about the exhibit and related programming at the library, visit rrnm.gov/library. For more about the exhibition, visit ushmm.org/americans-ala.

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Gary Herron | Observer staff writer