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

—Lester and Sue Smith Name Museum Campus with $15 Million Grant, 
Largest Donation in the History of the Museum--

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Houston (June 20, 2017)
. . . 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 73 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 October 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 90 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, chairman of the Museum. “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 will require HMH to temporarily relocate most of its permanent exhibit, classrooms and administrative offices to 9220 Kirby Drive, Suite 100. The Museum will close on Monday, July 24 to begin the move and open to visitors at its temporary location on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

ABOUT THE ARCHITECTS                                                                                                                               
Mucasey & Associates, Architects specializes in the architectural design of unique projects in the commercial, institutional, and residential markets primarily in Texas.  Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Houston, the firm’s 12-person staff manages a substantial portfolio of projects for retail and multi-family developers. The boutique firm is best known for its renovation projects requiring an expertise in preservation and synthesis of existing constraints. Mucasey & Associates, Architects provided the original architectural design for Holocaust Museum Houston, which opened in 1996.  

Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) is a multidisciplinary firm specializing in the planning and design of museums, exhibits, educational environments and visitor attractions. A family-owned company founded in 1978, its portfolio includes many of the world’s most recognizable public learning institutions across 700 completed commissions in more than 50 countries. Headquartered in New York, with branch offices in London, Moscow, Berlin, Beijing and Dubai, RAA has a staff of over two hundred practitioners including designers, architects, historians, educators, media specialists, technologists, and researchers.  RAA is known for its work for national governments, leading institutions, and major corporations, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. RAA provided the original exhibit and media design for HMH in 1996.

PGAL is an international design firm specializing in architecture, interior architecture, engineering and planning for a diverse portfolio of public and private sector clients. The firm’s staff of more than 200 architects, engineers, designers, and planners collaborate across 11 regional offices to create landmark, award-winning projects that satisfy client goals. 


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.  Average annual attendance is 110,000 visitors, including more than 43,750 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. 


“Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers” to House The Danish Rescue Boat and The German World War II Railcar – First Floor
“Bearing Witness,” the Museum’s permanent exhibit with personalized testimony and artifacts donated by Houston-area Holocaust Survivors, will expand with modern, interactive exhibit designs and increase the information within each unit. Both the Danish Rescue Boat and German World War II Railcar, currently displayed outdoors, will be moved inside the climate-controlled structure for preservation to ensure future generations of visitors and students will learn from these valuable artifacts. 

The Rhona and Bruce Caress Anne Frank and Young Writers’ Voices – First Floor
The expanded Museum will feature a permanent exhibit on Anne Frank and other youth diarists to educate visitors about the very personal stories of the Holocaust. Students will be able to access and utilize electronic diaries. Working with renowned diary expert Alexandra Zapruder and using numerous digital resources, this exhibit space will open doors of inquiry to HMH visitors of all ages.

Human Rights Gallery – First Floor
The Gallery will include a Call to Action exhibit, where visitors are challenged to engage with one another, and the outside world, to understand the choices that a single person can make to turn the tide and combat hatred. The Gallery will also feature a new Interfaith Hall of Reflection. This tranquil space will lend itself to meditation and reflection, encouraging visitors to take the time to quietly think through the challenges that face us, as well as the solutions we can compassionately reach. The Human Rights Gallery will become an innovative space for students and our community to learn about human rights and genocide during the 20th and 21st centuries. From across the globe, to here in Houston, this gallery will highlight the continuing issues facing the targets of genocide, persecution, and oppression.

Moral Choices Hall and Jerold B. Katz Foundation Butterfly Loft – Second Floor
The new Moral Choices Hall will serve as the heart of HMH. Located on the second floor, programs based here will remind visitors of the choices they remain free to make and the lives that they can successfully impact. The Moral Choices Hall features the three-story Butterfly Loft, where butterflies symbolize the 1.5 million children that perished in the Holocaust.   

Samuel Bak Gallery and Learning Center – Second Floor 
The Samuel Bak Gallery and Learning Center will serve as a permanent collection of 129 of Bak’s paintings, donated to the Museum by the artist, a renowned Holocaust survivor and painter. Utilizing a customized exhibit and bilingual curriculum about the Holocaust, Bak’s art asks its viewers to contemplate. The Bak Learning Center will encourage children and adults to think about the Holocaust and other genocides and then to consider the connections to their decision-making today. The Bak Learning Center provides a space for inquiry and reflection as visitors come to understand the content and symbolism used in Bak’s prolific paintings. 

The Boniuk Center for the Future of Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Studies – Second Floor
The Boniuk Center for the Future of Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Studies will provide a research and scholarly forum to consider how to best educate our community and others around the world about the history and memories of the Holocaust. In light of ongoing genocides and issues of human rights, the Center will provide a venue in which to consider values and how our work shapes society’s citizenry. The Center will explicate questions of morality and coexistence as these pertain to human behavior and decision-making. Located on the second floor, The Boniuk Center will house new and current educational programs, including the Warren Fellowship for Future Teachers, the Spector/Warren Fellowship, Max M. Kaplan Summer Institute, All Behaviors Count, Educator in Motion, Engines of Change Student Ambassadors and Through Their Eyes. 

The Albert and Ethel Herzstein Auditorium – Second Floor
The expansion includes a new 200-seat Albert and Ethel Herzstein Auditorium, equipped to provide a state-of-the-art experience for visitors. The auditorium will feature a professional performance-sized stage, including an artist dressing room, which will allow the Museum to expand the variety of presentations offered on-site, along with films and musical performances.

The Boniuk Library – Third Floor
The expansion of The Boniuk Library, with more than 10,000 volumes and numerous resources for in-house research and education, allows for enhanced public access to its 285 oral testimonies for research purposes and genealogical searches. The Boniuk Library is one of the largest sources of data in the U.S. for Destroyed Communities that occurred during the Holocaust.    


Media Contact
For media inquiries, please contact:
Director, Marketing & Public Relations
Tel: (713) 942-8000, ext. 103
E-mail: news@hmh.org

Our Public Relations team is eager to assist you in coverage of activities at Holocaust Museum Houston.

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Address and Directions
Holocaust Museum Houston is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums.

Hours and Admission
Museum Hours:

Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Museum Admission:

$12 for adults
$8 for active-duty military and AARP members
Free for children, students and college-level students with valid ID
Free admission on Sundays

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