25 Facts about Holocaust Museum Houston

  1. Ralph Appelbaum and Associates was the firm that designed the permanent exhibition for both the original building that opened in 1996 and the expanded facility that opened in 2019. Appelbaum also designed the permanent exhibition for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C.
  2. In 2018, in conjunction with the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission and Texas Tech University, the Museum hosted an exhibit titled Texas Liberators, and in a special ceremony, presented medals to more than 20 local liberators or their descendants.
  3. Even before the first building was constructed, the Museum began to conduct oral history interviews with Houston area survivors, ultimately completing almost 300 video testimonies.
  4. The Museum logo was designed by Uri Kelman and featured an eternal flame, a tallit (prayer shawl) and a broken Jewish star. The striking image has drawn positive acclaim, including an Addy Award, and is a powerful symbol of the museum.
  5. The Museum expansion in 2019 permitted the permanent installation within the Holocaust Gallery of both an authentic World War II era railcar and a Danish rescue boat, thus juxtaposing iconic symbols of extermination and rescue.
  6. In 1999 and 2000, Holocaust Museum Houston annually staged “The Human Race,” a fun walk/run through the streets of Houston designed to raise community consciousness on the unity of mankind.
  7. In 2002, Holocaust Museum Houston and the Emery/Weiner School held an honorary commencement ceremony for over fifty survivors whose education had been interrupted during the Holocaust. The ceremony included awarding diplomas to survivors who were accompanied to the podium by EWS students.
  8. Since its inception, Holocaust Museum Houston has maintained a robust docent program that boasts a docent corps of over 100 volunteers who are trained in both the permanent exhibitions and the changing exhibits.
  9. In 2007, the Museum conducted a year-long series of lectures from scholars on the subject of “The Nazis and Medical Ethics: Context and Lessons.” A volume compiling these presentations entitled How Healing Becomes Killing was subsequently published.
  10. Holocaust Museum Houston was a national leader in the creation of curriculum trunks, which were made available to individual teachers for use in their classrooms. The trunks were circulated locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally, with trunks also available in Spanish. They featured sufficient copies of educational resources (books, pamphlets, maps, etc.) for individual use by an entire classroom of students. Years later, the curricular materials that had filled the trunks were converted to a digital platform through the use of iPads and were made available in sufficient quantities to individual classrooms.
  11. Holocaust Museum Houston has over the years drawn upon the expertise of nationally renowned scholars both as consultants for the strategic development of the Museum and as distinguished lecturers. They include Michael Berenbaum, Deborah Lipstadt, Deborah Dwork, John Roth, Peter Hayes, Robert Jan Van Pelt, and David Marwell.
  12. The Museum has hosted many distinguished visitors over its history including Elie Wiesel, Steven Spielberg, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Edgar Bronfman, Rabbi Yisrael Lau, Gabby Giffords, and Luci Baines Johnson.
  13. Since its inception, the Museum has conducted a vast array of teacher training programs including annual week-long workshops for pre-service teachers and in-service teachers. In addition, because of its location as the gateway to Latin America, the museum has provided conferences for Latin American Holocaust museum educators and technical assistance to Latin American Holocaust museums.
  14. In a similar fashion, the Museum has created a series of cutting-edge programs to engage secondary students including Engines of Change, a year-long seminar on critical public policy issues, and Educator in Motion, a local outreach program featuring visits from HMH educators to local schools.
  15. In 2012, Holocaust Museum Houston earned accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, a status conferred upon only 3% of museums nationally, including only 4 in Houston.
  16. Over the years, Holocaust Museum Houston has curated many of its own changing exhibitions. Among the most notable have been Remembering Not to Forget: the Art of Alice Lok Cahana, When They Came to Take My Father: Photography by Mark Seliger, Survivors’ Journeys, Genocide: Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind, and Withstand: Latinx Art in Times of Conflict.
  17. Since its earliest days, Holocaust Museum Houston collected butterflies created by children as part of an art project to represent the 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust. The Butterfly Project: Remembering the Children of the Holocaust has been displayed in multiple venues, and a book, Taking Flight, was published in 2015. Finally, in 2018, a selection of these butterflies was on exhibit in the lobby of the United Nations in New York City.
  18. Holocaust Museum Houston is fully bilingual in English and Spanish.
  19. Holocaust Museum Houston is the first Holocaust museum in America to house a permanent art gallery featuring the work of a single artist, Holocaust Survivor Samuel Bak.
  20. Holocaust Museum Houston is the only Holocaust museum to house a permanent gallery devoted exclusively to diaries from young people who wrote during war and genocide.
  21. Holocaust Museum Houston participated in the Dimensions in Testimony program created by the USC Shoah Foundation in California. This permanent installation features Holocaust survivor and HMH supporter Bill Morgan allowing visitors to experience “virtual conversations” and “talking” with Holocaust survivors.
  22. Holocaust Museum Houston designed and implemented an original program titled “Through Their Eyes” which permits descendants of local survivors to use the video testimony of their deceased parents and grandparents to present their story to audiences. The presentations include the voice and image of the survivor supplemented by the reflections and observations of the descendant. The program has been replicated nationally.
  23. During the pandemic of 2020-2021, Holocaust Museum Houston pivoted to create online assets by developing several online virtual tours including the Holocaust Gallery, Human Rights Gallery, Samuel Bak Gallery, and the Nelson Mandela exhibition. Nearly 9,400 students and individuals took part in virtual tours during that time.
  24. Holocaust Museum Houston has created a series of affinity groups which provide supplemental programs based on the special interests of its members. These include The Guild, The Art Circle, NEXTGen, and Friends of the Boniuk Library.
  25. In 2015, Holocaust Museum Houston hosted 350 attendees at the annual conference of the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants.