In the late twentieth century, numerous history museums abandoned the use of objects and created, instead, simulated environments that emphasized visitors’ experience and emotional engagement with the past in a manner known as ‘edutainment’. While these new museums were hailed as pedagogical institutions that encouraged diversity and critical thinking, not enough attention was given to their potential to become instruments of power, telling a one-dimensional narrative.
This article is about the genesis of one such museum and its permanent exhibition: the Palmach Museum in Tel-Aviv, inaugurated in 2000, and devoted to the history of the eponymous Jewish paramilitary organization that was active between 1941–48. The museum was initiated by Labor movement-affiliated Palmach veterans and became an official museum of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The museum depicts the history of the Palmach by means of scenery and film which together, by controlling visitors’ locomotion, constitute total experience.