PaperCity Magazine

June 2019- Houston

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 77 of 99

H olocaust Museum Houston, Lester and Sue Smith Campus, opens t h i s m o n t h with a weekend celebration and an opportunity for the community to experience a fresh, uplifting building — now three stories, doubling its footprint to 57,000 square feet and filled with light, new outdoor areas, a cafe, 200- seat theater, al fresco amphitheater for 175, research library, classrooms, and expanded space to present the story of the Holocaust and warn of future genocides via four permanent galleries and two changing exhibition spaces. The reborn museum, the fourth largest devoted to the Holocaust and human-rights narrative in the U.S., is designed by Houston firm Mucasey & Associates, Architects, and is also LEED-certified. HMH earns credit, too, for being the first Holocaust institution to be fully bilingual in English and Spanish. While the museum's iconic cylinder and sloping concrete roof remain in an altered iteration, two- thirds of the original building (also designed by Mucasey) was razed to make way for a new version of the museum. HMH's gravitas remains but now possesses a new sense of inclusion, with buoyant portals of light to counter the sobering content within its galleries: Immersive, interactive, and visceral exhibits relay in unfiltered detail the truth of the 20th century's most horrific tragedy, as well as the narrative of the few bold souls who rescued their Jewish neighbors and others who fled from Hitler and/or served in the resistance. One of the most powerful experiences for visitors promises to be the expanded Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers Holocaust Gallery. At the heart of the display are artifacts of darkness and light: a World War II- era German railroad car of the type that transported nearly three million Jewish people to the Nazi death camps and a modest Danish fishing boat from one of the villages where residents hid Jewish refugees before ferrying them to safety in Sweden. Two other integral spaces on the first floor are the Human Rights Gallery with its Interfaith Pool of Reflection, which asks tough questions about standing up to genocide, and the Diarists Gallery, which features interactive excerpts from the diaries of 12 children who experienced war and genocide, including Anne Frank. Other poignant moments occur in the Jerold B. Katz Family Butterfly Loft; light pours into the three-story space where 1,500 butterflies stand for the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust. A pair of touring exhibitions inaugu- rates the grand opening of the museum: a look at justice done and the apprehen- sion of the notorious Hitler henchman, Adolf Eichmann, and "Points of View," curated by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, featuring photography documenting today's activism. While its namesake benefactor, the munificent Lester Smith, passed away this March, the campus that he and his wife Sue Smith made happen with the couple's $15 million matching grant — the most generous gift ever in HMH's history — ensures that Smith's legacy will live on. As museum CEO Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga said of the timing of the Smith Campus opening: "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." Holocaust Museum Houston, Lester and Sue Smith Campus grand opening, Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23; 76 THIS MONTH, A $34 MILLION HOLOCAUST MUSEUM EXPANSION TWO YEARS IN THE MAKING UNVEILS — A NEW HUMAN-RIGHTS DESTINATION WHOSE TIMING AND IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR REGION ARE PROFOUND AND PRESCIENT. MISSION CRITICAL Holocaust Museum Houston, Lester and Sue Smith Campus PGAL BY CATHERINE D. ANSPON

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - June 2019- Houston