Buenos Aires’ Shoah Museum is the only museum in South America focusing on one of the most horrifying periods in history, necessary work to educate a city, a country, a continent as the number of people who actually lived through this time are becoming few and far between. Which is why its recent marketing campaign is so puzzling. The slogan is “One museum, no art,” and the ad features a gradient of recognizable mustaches, beginning with what appears to be Salvador Dalí’s and ending with Adolf Hitler’s. Reads the copy: “At the age of 18, Adolf Hitler failed at being an artist. Unfortunately nowadays, his work is at our museum.”
Whoa. Whoa. It’s not a bad idea, maybe, and the intention is clear. But it just seems too sleek and the concept too hip and jocular to do justice to a museum about unspeakable evil and inhumanity. Mustache jokes? Really? This is a Holocaust museum, not your new Etsy shop, bro. And why bring Salvador Dalí into it? He’s a recognizable artist with recognizable facial hair, to be sure, and he was a Franco sympathizer, which is gross, but it still feels totally unnecessary.
This isn’t the first time an advertisement for the museum has been met with confusion or negative feedback. Last summer, FWT created this ad, featuring an image of emaciated children in a concentration camp in an empty room with a “Wet Floor” sign. The idea, presumably, is that the floor is wet with tears as patrons view the horrors within, but there’s a piece somehow missing. Maybe a person walking out or a change in the sign would have made the picture complete, and FWT is on about not pulling any punches about how upsetting the contents of the museum will likely be (unlike in the aforementioned ad), and rightfully so. But something just doesn’t quite work here.