During the month of January, the UT Downtown Gallery will host the Violins of Hope.
The Violins of Hope are a collection of restored violins that were played by Jewish musicians during The Holocaust. These instruments have survived concentration camps, pogroms and many long journeys to tell remarkable stories of injustice, suffering, resilience, and survival. The collection was assembled and restored by Israeli master violin maker and restorer, Amnon Weinstein.
In some cases, the ability to play the violin spared Jewish musicians from more grueling labors or even death. Nearly 50 years ago, Amnon heard such a story from a customer who brought in an instrument for restoration. The customer survived the Holocaust because his job was to play the violin while Nazi soldiers marched others to their deaths. When Amnon opened the violin’s case, he saw ashes. He thought of his own relatives who had perished and was overwhelmed. He could not bring himself to begin the project.
By 1996, Amnon was ready. He put out a call for violins from the Holocaust that he would restore in hopes that the instruments would sound again.
Amnon started locating violins that were played by Jews in the camps and ghettos, painstakingly piecing them back together so they could be brought to life again on the concert stage. Although most of the musicians who originally played the instruments were silenced by the Holocaust, their voices and spirits live on through the violins that Amnon has lovingly restored. He calls these 50 instruments the Violins of Hope.
There will be extended hours for this special exhibition. The UT Downtown Gallery will be open M-F from 11am – 6pm, Saturdays from 10am – 3pm, and Sundays from 1-4pm.