In 2005, the Dallas Holocaust Museum moved from the basement of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center in North Dallas where it was founded to its current leased location at 211 North Record Street in the West End Historic District of Downtown Dallas.
The reason? The museum had outgrown its space.
The Record Street location allowed the installation of a new core exhibit, a gallery for rotating special exhibits, and a 120-seat theater to host special programs, feature filmed testimonies of Holocaust survivors, and provide space for teacher training workshops. Most importantly, the expanded location allowed thousands of new visitors and school students to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.
Even in 2005, members of the museum board of directors agreed that the Record Street location was only temporary, believing that demand for the education and experience provided by the museum would require a new, much larger permanent space; the 6,000 square-foot leased space on Record Street was an interim step designed to give the board time to develop a plan and raise funds to build a state-of-the-art facility.
In 2016, the Museum hosted a record, 83,500 visitors.
After years of visioning, planning, and fundraising, that time has now arrived. The museum once again has outgrown its space. In 2016, the Museum hosted a record, 83,500 visitors, which too often meant limiting the number of school groups that could be booked in one day and leaving guests feeling cramped as indicated by reviews like this one:
“Great place to see. Went with two kids who were engaged and interested till the end. Wishing the space was bigger because as it began to get crowded moving around inside became cumbersome. But they do say they are planning to expand. I would recommend anyone add this to their ‘To Do’ list of Dallas attractions,” said a Trip Advisor Review post.
In 2013, the museum board authorized President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins to begin efforts to raise funds for a 50,000 square foot, three-story, state-of-the-art museum. The museum will have a new moniker to reflect an expanded mission: The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. The museum’s mission will remain—to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference—and will continue to host visitors primarily from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
To date, more than $51.2 million has been raised. “We are confident that we will break ground on the new Museum by the end of 2017,” says Higgins.
The museum’s mission will remain—to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference.
The new museum, which will accommodate more than 200,000 visitors annually, will be built on a parking lot already owned by the museum on Houston Street adjacent to the DART rail line on Pacific Avenue, diagonally across from the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Omniplan Architects designed the new museum under the stewardship of Michael Berenbaum, the former project director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on the Washington D.C. mall. Austin Industries will begin construction soon.
Be watching for building cranes in the West End!
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