Houston's Holocaust Museum unveils US$33.8m expansion
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Houston's Holocaust Museum unveils US$33.8m expansion

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Houston’s Holocaust+Museum'>Holocaust Museum has announced plans to nearly triple in size following a US$15m (€13.5m, £11.8m) gift from longtime patrons Lester and Sue Smith.

The Smith’s donation goes towards the museum’s ongoing US$49.4m (€43.9m, £39.6m) capital fundraising campaign, which includes in addition to costs for the redevelopment, US$11.7m (€10.5m, £9.2m) in endowment funds.

Expanding in size to 57,000sq ft (5,300sq m), the US$33.8m (€30.3m, £26.6m) expansion will see two thirds of the existing building razed to the ground to make way for a new three-storey structure housing exhibits, classrooms, library space and administrative offices.

The first floor will contain the Human Rights Gallery, which will feature a new Interfaith Hall of Reflection. The gallery will also include a space for students to learn about human rights and genocide during the 20th and 21st centuries and a Call to Action exhibit, where visitors are challenged to engage with one another to understand the choices that a person can make to combat hatred. The first floor will also feature a permanent exhibit dedicated to Anne Frank and other youth diarists to educate visitors about the stories of the Holocaust.

The Moral Choices Hall on the second floor, will act as the “heart” of the museum, with programmes based on reminding visitors of the choices they remain free to make. The Moral Choices Hall also features the three-story Butterfly Loft, where butterflies symbolize the 1.5 million children who died during the Holocaust.

Also on on the second floor, The Samuel Bak Gallery and Learning Center will serve as a permanent collection of 129 of it namesake’s paintings, donated to the museum by the artist – a Holocaust survivor and painter. The floor will also be home to an expanded auditorium, which can seat 200 people.

The third floor is an expansion of the museum’s library, which will allow for enhanced public access to a collection of 285 oral testimonies for research purposes and genealogical searches. The library will also include more than 10,000 volumes and resources for in-house research and education.

"The expansion will give us the opportunity to serve substantially more students each year," said Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga, museum CEO. "Expanded exhibits, complete with bilingual English/Spanish signage, will increase student field trip attendance by 50 per cent in the first year alone, and are projecting that our overall attendance will grow by nearly 35 per cent.”

Architects Mucasey & Associates (M&A) are behind the LEED certified masterplan, with international design firm PGAL acting as architects of record. Exhibition and media design will be handled by Ralph Appelbaum Associates. McCarthy Building Companies are general contractors.

During construction, which is scheduled to begin in October and be completed in early 2019, the museum will temporarily relocate most of its permanent exhibits. The museum will close on 24 July in preparation for the move to 9220 Kirby Drive, Suite 100, where it will open on 5 September.

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Houston’s Holocaust Museum has announced plans to nearly triple in size following a US$15m (€13.5m, £11.8m) gift from longtime patrons Lester and Sue Smith.
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