Dal­las Holo­caust mu­seum to open new build­ing

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Second Front - By JAMIE STENGLE

DAL­LAS — When the Holo­caust mu­seum in Dal­las opens the doors to its new build­ing, vis­i­tors will be not only learn­ing about the mass mur­der of Jews dur­ing World War II but also other geno­cides that have hap­pened around the world, as well as hu­man rights strug­gles in the U.S.

The newly re­named Dal­las Holo­caust and Hu­man Rights Mu­seum is the lat­est in the U.S. to broaden its per­ma­nent ex­hibit and em­bolden its ef­forts to inspire vis­i­tors to take ac­tion to make the world a bet­ter place.

“We’re hop­ing that in the mo­ments that they fin­ish this jour­ney they will be think­ing: What can I do? How can I make a dif­fer­ence in my com­mu­nity?” said Mary Pat Hig­gins, the mu­seum’s pres­i­dent and CEO.

Ex­pand­ing the fo­cus to in­clude more re­cent atroc­i­ties and hu­man rights strug­gles helps draw in more vis­i­tors to be re­minded that the lessons from the Holo­caust are still rel­e­vant.

The mu­seum open­ing Sept. 18 in Dal­las is five times big­ger than its pre­vi­ous lo­ca­tion — a jump from 6,000 square feet to 55,000 square feet. Mu­seum of­fi­cials hope for 200,000 vis­i­tors a year — more than dou­ble the pre­vi­ous fig­ure.

The Holo­caust Mu­seum Houston has al­ready seen a jump in vis­i­tors since re­open­ing in June af­ter a ren­o­va­tion and ex­pan­sion that more than dou­bled its size. The pri­mary fo­cus of the orig­i­nal mu­seum was the Holo­caust, but it now details other geno­cides and has trib­utes to hu­man rights lead­ers in­clud­ing No­bel Prize lau­re­ate Malala Yousafzai, who as a child in Pak­istan be­gan ad­vo­cat­ing for girls’ ed­u­ca­tion.

“We look at it like as: if we can get them in the door and at­tract them on — it might be some­thing like a so­cial ac­tivism — then they can also ben­e­fit from learn­ing about the Holo­caust when they’re here,” said Kelly Zu­niga, CEO of the Houston mu­seum.

In Cincin­nati, the Nancy

and David Wolf Holo­caust and Hu­man­ity Cen­ter’s move in Jan­uary into Union Ter­mi­nal train sta­tion meant that it could in­clude a gallery show­cas­ing peo­ple who have made pos­i­tive changes in their com­mu­nity. “We ex­am­ine in­di­vid­u­als who stood up and who seized the mo­ment and we talk about their char­ac­ter strengths,” said Jodi Elowitz, the cen­ter’s ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor.

Two years ago the Illinois Holo­caust Mu­seum and Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Skokie opened as part of its per­ma­nent ex­hibit the Take a Stand Cen­ter, which is fo­cused on hu­man rights. “Hope­fully they’re get­ting knowl­edge, they’re find­ing their pas­sion or their par­tic­u­lar cause or is­sue that they’re in­ter­ested in,” said Kel­ley Szany, vice pres­i­dent of ed­u­ca­tion and ex­hi­bi­tions for the mu­seum.

The Dal­las mu­seum’s ori­en­ta­tion video asks the ques­tion: Why should vis­i­tors care?

“The rest of the mu­seum goes on to not an­swer the ques­tion, be­cause we don’t pro­vide an­swers. We do pro­vide di­rec­tion. We ex­pect you to be able to an­swer the ques­tion how­ever you were im­pacted,” said Ed­die Ja­cobs, who de­signed the ex­hibit with fel­low Beren­baum Ja­cobs As­so­ciates founder Michael Beren­baum.

The gallery de­tail­ing geno­cides that hap­pened be­fore and af­ter the Holo­caust uses sculp­ture and graphic nov­els to help vis­i­tors un­der­stand the tactics that led to the mass killings. The sculp­ture on the mass mur­der of Tut­sis by the Hu­tus in Rwanda in 1994 in­cludes ma­chetes and vic­tims’ ra­cial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards. A graphic novel notes that po­lar­iza­tion tactics that led to the geno­cide in­cluded Tut­sis be­ing re­ferred to as cock­roaches, point­ing out that the Nazis por­trayed Jews as rats and poi­sonous mush­rooms.

Associated Press

In this July 29 photo, Dal­las Holo­caust and Hu­man Rights Mu­seum Pres­i­dent and CEO, Mary Pat Hig­gins, gives a tour as work con­tin­ues on the lo­ca­tion in Dal­las.

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