Holocaust Museum Houston plans to open new facilities June 22
The Holocaust Museum Houston plans to re-open its much-enhanced campus on June 22.
The expansion more than doubles the museum’s size, to a total of 57,000 square feet, making it the nation’s fourth largest Holocaust museum and the first to be fully bilingual in English and Spanish.
CEO Kelly J. Zúñiga and other leaders envision the museum as a super-regional hub for Holocaust education and a national voice for human rights and social justice. “With the rise in anti-Semitism, hate crimes and threats to human rights within our own country, our role in education and outreach is more important than ever before,” Zúñiga said.
She expects student field trip attendance to increase by 50 percent within a year of the reopening and projects 35 percent growth in general attendance.
The completion of the $34 million project is the next big marker of an $800 million transformation underway in the Houston Museum District, following the 2018 openings of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Glassell School of Art and Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation and the Menil Drawing Institute.
Much has changed, inside and out.
The landmark cylinder designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates at the Holocaust Museum’s 5401 Caroline campus has a new opening that will emit light at night and brighten its interior during the day. The main “Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers” gallery there has almost doubled and now houses two of the museum’s prized artifacts: A railcar akin to those that transported Jewish prisoners to concentration camps and a rescue boat like those used by Danish fishermen to ferry Jewish neighbors to neutral territory. The cylinder’s first-floor has a new welcome center, and a second floor was added to feature paintings by Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak.
Just as dramatically, the museum’s original, one-story east wing has been expanded to three floors. Facilities there include four permanent and two temporary exhibition galleries; a new, 200-seat auditorium with a stage; a cafe; a library; classrooms and offices. Touring exhibitions from Israel, China, Canada and South Africa are already on the books for the next three years. And a 175-seat outdoor amphitheater is taking shape outside.
The new facility was designed Houston firm Mucasey & Associates, with exhibition and media design by Appelbaum. Both firms participated in the creation of the museum 22 years ago. Houston-based PGAL is the architect of record. Museum officials said 88 percent of their $49.4 million capital campaign has been secured.
Leading up to the the reopening, the museum will debut a new bilingual website and host “Coexistence,” an internationally-acclaimed outdoor exhibition, opening in May at Hermann Park.
Holocaust Museum Houston exhibits are currently on view at 9220 Kirby Drive, Suite 100, a temporary space that will close on May 16. Admission is $8-$12; free on Sundays.