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Holocaust Museum Houston Announces $49.4 Million Capital Campaign Expansion Plans to Double Size of Facility

Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) has announced plans for a dramatic, $33.8 million expansion of its building at 5401 Caroline St. that will more than double its size to a total of 57,000 square feet and make HMH the fourth-largest Holocaust museum in the country.



Longtime HMH supporters Lester and Sue Smith committed a $15 million matching grant to the project, the largest donation in the history of the museum. The new building will be named Holocaust Museum Houston, Lester and Sue Smith Campus. To date, the campaign has secured 74 percent of the $49.4 million campaign goal.

Two-thirds of the current building will be razed to make way for the new three-story structure that will house exhibits, classrooms, library space and administrative offices. Construction is scheduled to begin in November and be completed in early 2019.

"Because the Museum is a leader in educating our youth, the expansion will give us the opportunity to serve substantially more students each year," said Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga, CEO of the Museum. "We believe the expanded exhibits, complete with bilingual English/Spanish signage, will increase student field trip attendance by 50 percent in the first year alone, and are projecting that our overall attendance will grow by nearly 35 percent," Zúñiga said.

After a surprise $1 million donation to HMH’s capital campaign at the recent Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award Dinner, Lester and Sue Smith donated an additional $14 million matching grant to the museum's $49.4 capital campaign, which includes an $11.7 million endowment, ensuring that the museum would meet its funding goal for the facility groundbreaking. To date, the campaign has received 110 gifts in total, including major gifts from Laurie and Dr. Milton Boniuk, Rhona and Bruce Caress, The Stanford and Joan Alexander Foundation, The Herzstein Foundation and The Jerold B. Katz Foundation.

“As long-time supporters of HMH, we believe strongly in the institution’s mission to educate visitors about the dangers of apathy, prejudice and inaction,” said Lester Smith. “We are very proud to have our family’s name forever associated with the Museum and look forward to the opening of the Lester and Sue Smith Campus and all the lives that will be impacted by the experience.”

“We deeply appreciate that HMH is a place of learning from the past while looking to the future,” said Sue Smith. “We share the Museum’s mission to leave a mark of remembrance, in the hope of peace, tolerance and understanding to all who enter its doors.”

“HMH has the responsibility of educating people about the Holocaust and honoring the survivors,” said Gary Markowitz, Board Chair. “With this expansion, our work to bridge the gap between remembering the lives lost in the Holocaust and conveying the relevance and history of the Holocaust to youth and adults in our diverse community will endure for generations to come.”

The LEED certified expansion is designed by Mucasey & Associates, Architects, with PGAL as the architect of record. The exhibition and media design is by museum designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates. Program Manager is Mark Christensen of Christensen Building Group, LLC. The general contractor is McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

Construction require HMH to temporarily relocate most of its permanent exhibit, classrooms and administrative offices to 9220 Kirby Drive, Suite 100. 


About Holocaust Museum Houston


Holocaust Museum Houston, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1996 by Houston-area Holocaust Survivors, their descendants and members of the community, is accredited by The American Alliance of Museums.  The Museum entertains 163,000 visitors per year, including more than 43,500 middle and high school students. The Museum is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors’ legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, we teach the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. For more information, visit hmh.org.