The St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center will triple in size with an $18 million expansion as officials seek to reach even deeper into issues of bias, bigotry and hate.
Details about the expansion were announced this week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Officials hope to make the building more visible and accessible.
The museum, in the suburb of Creve Coeur and operated by the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, draws 30,000 annual visitors, about two-thirds of whom are students. Admission is free.
Museum officials are in touch with about 30 Holocaust survivors who live in the St. Louis area. This week’s announcement came on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Don Hannon, chief operating officer of the Jewish Federation, said he and other officials often hear from people who didn’t know St. Louis had a Holocaust museum. The museum opened 25 years ago.
“Our goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future,” he said. “We want to be well-known. We want to continue to be a resource.”
The museum’s new executive director, Sandra Harris, said groundbreaking will be in May and the goal is to finish by the end of 2021. The new space will be 35,000 square feet and will include a larger multipurpose area with retractable theater seating for 250 people. It will also include a relocated library, an archive space, two classrooms, an exhibition space with more multimedia displays and a space that can house temporary exhibits.
Museum officials have raised about $14 million and also received a $750,000 National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant, one of the largest ever awarded in Missouri.
The museum’s lessons go beyond the Holocaust, with details about genocides across the world. It encourages visitors to consider their own biases.
It includes more than 12,000 artifacts, including letters, photographs, artwork, and uniforms and patches that survivors wore in concentration camps.