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Mab

Holocaust Museum expansion

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A rendering of the expanded Holocaust Museum Houston. The project will replace an existing space with a rectangular, three-story, 35,000 square-foot structure adjacent to a ramp-shaped existing wing. Construction begins in October and is expected to be completed by early 2019. Photo: PGALA rendering of the expanded Holocaust Museum Houston. The project will replace an existing space with a rectangular, three-story, 35,000 square-foot structure adjacent to a ramp-shaped existing wing. Construction begins in October and is expected to be completed by early 2019. Photo: PGAL

A rendering of light-filled interior space within the Holocaust Museum Houston's planned expansion. The project will more than double the museum's space, to 57,000 square feet. Photo: PGALA rendering of the expanded Holocaust Museum Houston. The project will replace an existing space with a rectangular, three-story, 35,000 square-foot structure adjacent to a ramp-shaped existing wing. Construction begins in October and is expected to be completed by early 2019. Photo: PGALA rendering of light-filled interior space within the Holocaust Museum Houston's planned expansion. The project will more than double the museum's space, to 57,000 square feet. Photo: PGALA rendering of the expanded Holocaust Museum Houston. The project will replace an existing space with a rectangular, three-story, 35,000 square-foot structure adjacent to a ramp-shaped existing wing. Construction begins in October and is expected to be completed by early 2019. Photo: PGAL

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The Holocaust Museum Houston unveiled plans Tuesday for a $33.8 million expansion that will nearly triple its size.


A $15-million gift from long-time patrons Lester and Sue Smith, the largest in the museum's history, will ensure that the expansion project breaks ground as planned in October.


On Caroline Street, roughly three blocks east of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Holocaust Museum's current building is a sculptural, brooding presence, a dark-gray cylinder that sits atop a wedge.

 


The renovation will increase the building's size to 57,000 square feet, and alter its architecture. A new roof opening atop the cylinder will let in daylight and emit white light at night — so that a building once notable for its darkness will become a light-filled beacon.

 


The new facilities will allow the museum to significantly broaden its scope and community outreach. Keeping the Holocaust relevant in relation to human rights and genocide issues today is "a ribbon that will run throughout, so you feel empowered when you leave, and hopeful," said Kelly J. Zúñiga, the museum's CEO. She cites the museum's mantra: "Hope is better than hate."


The Smiths' commitment provides a matching grant for the museum's $49.4 million capital campaign. In their honor, the institution at 5401 Caroline St. will be renamed the Holocaust Museum Houston, Lester and Sue Smith Campus.


Lester Smith, a Wharton native, said one of his grandfathers emigrated to Texas from Russia in 1903, and he has always believed strongly in the museum's mission to teach the lessons civilization has learned from the Holocaust.

 


Mary Lee Webeck, the museum's director of education, thinks the museum and its lessons have never been more important than they are right now, here in Houston.


"The rising presence of hate in our world, in our country, is unprecedented," she said. "And the city that we live in, demographically, is 10 to 15 years ahead of the rest of the country. We have a chance to be a model for the rest of the country — to show that people can live together peacefully, can talk with each other."


The addition was designed by the Houston firm Mucasey & Associates, with exhibition and media de-sign by the world-renowned Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

Among the planned improvements:
• The museum's current one-story east wing will be razed and replaced with a light-filled, three-story building that will house much larger exhibition spaces, more classrooms, a larger library and more ad-ministrative offices.
• The size of the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Auditorium, creating a 200-seat theater that can accom-modate professional performances.
Zúñiga expects an increase in collaborations with organizations such as Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Symphony.
•"Bearing Witness," a permanent exhibit with testimony and artifacts donated by Houston-area Holo-caust survivors, will nearly double in size. The museum's signature exhibits, a Danish rescue boat and German World War II railcar, will be brought inside the museum where they will be more interactive.
Berths will be dug into the foundation so that visitors can observe the deck of the boat at eye-level, allowing them to see secret compartments where Danish citizens hid Jews to carry them to safety in Sweden during an amazing three-week episode of World War II history. In the new space visitors will also be able to walk through the railcar, which once carried Jewish prisoners to concentration camps.
-- The Mincberg Gallery will also nearly double in size, permitting the museum to present more travel-ing shows and create more diverse exhibits.
--  The Boniuk Library, one of the largest sources of data in the U.S. for communities destroyed during the Holocaust, will be enlarged. It holds more than 10,000 volumes and resources for in-house re-search and education.
--  A permanent exhibit about Anne Frank and other young diarists will be part of the new Rhona and Bruce Caress Anne Frank and Young Writers' Voices room, the only resource of its kind.
-- The new Moral Choices Hall and Butterfly Loft at the heart of the building will contain a commis-sioned artwork, still to be awarded, as a memorial to the 1.5 million children killed during the Holo-caust.
-- The new Boniuk Center for the Future of Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Studies will provide a research and scholarly forum devoted to teaching today's citizens about the history and memories of the Holocaust, in light of ongoing genocides and issues of human rights.


The museum will temporarily move most of its permanent exhibits, classrooms and offices during the construction. The current facility closes July 24, with the temporary operations opening Sept. 5 at 9220 Kirby Drive, just south of Loop 610.

After the expansion, Houston will have the nation's fourth largest Holocaust museum, behind the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Louisiana's Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance and the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

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http://www.chron.com/entertainment/article/Holocaust-Museum-Houston-unveils-expansion-plans-11234521.php

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