Philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That oft-repeated quote was perhaps the impetus behind a new museum in Michigan that showcases thousands of racist artifacts.

The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, housed at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., has amassed what it says is the nation’s largest public collection of items spanning the segregation era and beyond.

David Pilgrim, the African-American founder and curator who started building the collection as a teenager, is a former Ferris State sociology professor who says the $1.3 million gallery is “all about teaching, not a shrine to racism,” with a goal of getting people “to think deeply.”

The artifacts showcase stereotypical depictions of black men and women, with racial epithets throughout and even a full-size replica of a lynching tree with a noose attached. The tour ends in a “room of dialogue,” where visitors are encouraged to discuss what they’ve seen and how the objects could further tolerance and social justice.

“There’s parts [that are] quite gut-wrenching,” said Nancy Mettlach, a student conduct specialist at Ferris. “And the thought that was going through my mind was: ‘How can one human being do this to another human being?’”

Learn more about the Jim Crow museum below.

[Associated Press]