Dallas center finds permanent home in West End district
The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance will build a new permanent home in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas, officials announced at an Oct. 27 news conference.
The new museum will bear a new name — the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum — and an expanded mission. It will be built on property owned by the Museum near Houston Street and the DART rail corridor on Pacific Avenue, presently a parking lot, diagonally across from the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
“At a time when Texas leads the nation in the number of active hate groups, and the Dallas community is still healing from the July 7 attack on local law enforcement officers, the most violent and hateful act against law enforcement officers since 9/11, we believe the mission of the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is more important than ever,” said Museum President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins.
“The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will become an architectural icon in downtown Dallas, engaging 21st-century audiences by dramatically expanding educational programming,” said Frank Risch, Campaign co-chair. “The state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot museum will accommodate more than 200,000 visitors a year, half of whom will be school students. It will also more than quadruple its current exhibit space,” he said.
The new museum is being designed by Omniplan Architects and the permanent exhibition is being designed by Berenbaum Jacobs Associates, under the stewardship of Michael Berenbaum, the former project director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on the Washington, D.C. mall.
The new museum will be unique among the nation’s 21 Holocaust-related museums. In addition to a clear focus on the Holocaust, it will feature new exhibit galleries on human rights and American ideals. It will also feature modern, immersive and interactive content and technology along with an original boxcar used by the Nazis during the Holocaust to transport Jews and others. It will include a 250-seat theater, new classrooms, an expanded library and archive, modern technology throughout, additional staffing and a special reflection and memorial area for visitors.
“We need a place that allows us to have a discussion about what human rights, diversity and respect for others mean for our city today,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The Museum has already raised two-thirds of the funds it needs to start construction, which will take about two years to complete. More than $43 million has been raised of the $61 million budget. To raise additional funds, the Museum is launching the “Building a Foundation of Hope” capital campaign. Construction will begin as soon as remaining needed funds are raised, Higgins said.
“We have run out of space in our tiny current rented facility,” Higgins said. “We are limited in the number of visitors we can see at one time, and many schools and thousands of students are not able to visit as their class sizes are too large for our current museum. We have been forced to move many of our events to other venues. These are all wonderful problems to have, but we urgently have to address our community’s need for education surrounding the history of the Holocaust and its all too relevant lessons. This need has led our board to unanimously approve the ‘Building a Foundation of Hope’ capital campaign to create the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.”
Ann and Nate Levine, the new museum’s most generous donors, have stated that “Education is at the heart of everything the Museum does. Our goal is to change behavior by raising awareness of the dangers of prejudice, hatred, and injustice and what happens when people don’t stand up to threats against humanity.” The Levines also note that “the new museum will focus on Upstanders — those individuals who stand up to prejudice, hatred and indifference, and whose efforts inspire us to make a difference in our community and world.”
The Museum recently commissioned an independent academic study to gauge the impact that a visit to the Museum has on students and educators. The results make very clear that student attitudes and tolerance levels are strongly impacted by Museum visits:
Understanding that passive actions/bystander behavior have negative impacts increased by 56.8 percent for middle school and 31.1 percent for high school students
Capacity to examine their own behaviors increased by 19.4 percent in middle school and 15.7 percent in high school students
83.3 percent of teachers said students are more willing to stand up for others
Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, honoree of the Museum’s 2010 Hope for Humanity award dinner and longtime Museum supporter, says “We need to take the next step for all the people of Dallas to be able to teach more teachers, to educate more students, and ultimately transform Dallas into a city of Upstanders. This new museum will continue to showcase Dallas as a beacon of hope for our nation and our world.”
The Museum has played an important role in the community for the past 32 years. The new museum, with its dramatically larger facilities and expanded educational and cultural programming, will galvanize North Texans to learn and understand the lessons of the Holocaust, thereby combating hatred and injustice.
To learn more about the “Building a Foundation of Hope” capital campaign, please contact Mary Pat Higgins at 214-741-7500. For additional information about the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, visit: DallasHolocaustMuseum.org.
The Museum is grateful for the following leadership gifts to the “Building a Foundation of Hope” campaign to create the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum (as of print date):
Capital Campaign donors include:
- $10,000,000: Ann and Nate Levine;
- $3,000,0000-$4,999,999: Carol and Steve Aaron;
- $1,000,0000-$2,999,999: Edward and Wilhelmina Ackerman Family Foundation; Alon USA Energy, Inc.; Janet and Jeffrey Beck; The Brown Family; Cinemark; Cynthia and Robert Feldman; Funk Families; Estate of Lilian Furst; Glazer Family; Lisa and Neil Goldberg; Sherry and Kenny Goldberg; Dot and Basil Haymann; The Hirsch Family Foundation; Helen and Frank Risch; Simmons Sisters Fund; Donna and Herbert Weitzman; Peggy and Mark Zilbermann