Museum’s New Name Honors St. Louis Holocaust Survivors’ Families
(St. Louis, November 17, 2020) – At a virtual groundbreaking Sunday, dignitaries celebrated a new future and a new name for St. Louis’ Holocaust Museum. The new, greatly expanded Museum will be known as the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum in honor of the families of Gloria Kaplan Feldman, a local Holocaust survivor with a long history of philanthropy in the St. Louis Jewish community, her late husband Rubin Feldman, and her brother David Kaplan, also Holocaust survivors.
The $21 million project is being built on the Millstone Campus, near the northwest corner of Lindbergh Boulevard and Schuetz Road, replacing the existing Holocaust Museum.
Set to open in mid-2022, the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum will quadruple the space of the existing facility to 35,000 square feet. The new facility will fuel the Museum’s mission to preserve the legacy of the Holocaust, teach about the Museum’s many purposes, and empower visitors to make the world a more tolerant place by rejecting all forms of hate, racism, and bigotry.
“We are building a 21st century Museum that will bring the history and lessons of the Holocaust directly to visitors from St. Louis and the surrounding region,” said Don Hannon, acting executive director of the Museum. “The new facility will increase our opportunities to engage with students from hundreds of regional schools and with the community through lectures, films, and other events. We will be able to host more students and larger groups than ever before.”
The Museum, which already hosts 30,000 visitors per year, will expand its role as a regional destination for people to learn the history of the Holocaust and the related issues that still exist today. Throughout the Museum, visitors will hear directly from Holocaust survivors in video and audio testimonies.
The new facility will have its own entrance facing toward Lindbergh Boulevard and will feature the latest in interactive technology. This includes an environmentally controlled and secure archives space that will protect and preserve more than 12,000 artifacts, as well as a new space to display temporary exhibitions from the Museum’s collections and those from other institutions. The Museum’s new multipurpose area will offer seating for up to 250 visitors to attend programs and community events. There will also be a space dedicated to onsite research for students and scholars.
At the groundbreaking, Cheryle Atkin, Gloria’s daughter, said how honored the families are to have the Museum named for them.
“My parents, along with their families, endured years of experiencing the indescribable during the Holocaust as they were hiding out; witnessing torture, hangings, beatings and shootings; fighting illness; enduring starvation; and escaping camps and ghettos,” she said. “The idea that they would survive, come to the United States to live the American dream, and then have a Holocaust Museum bearing their names could not have even entered their wildest imaginations.”
The new St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum has been made possible in part by a $750,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. This is one of the largest grants ever awarded in the State of Missouri. The Museum has also received tremendous support from the local community and corporations, including Centene, J.E & L.E. Mabee Foundation, Enterprise, Barnes Jewish Hospital, and the Bellwether Foundation.
“We’re honored by the support we have received from the many individuals, corporations, and foundations,” said Carol Staenberg, chairperson of the Museum’s capital campaign. “The goal of our institution is to make sure we tell the story of the Holocaust and its lessons. We look forward to maintaining its relevance well into the 21st century so even more Missourians and visitors from all over can study and learn from the brutality of the Holocaust.”
Accessible for those with all abilities, the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum will challenge visitors to understand perspectives of collaborators, bystanders, resistors, liberators, and victims. Throughout the Museum, visitors will connect with survivor stories from an extensive collection of 235 oral histories.
A dedicated team of volunteer docents, including second- and third-generation Holocaust survivors, will continue to bring stories to life for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The Museum’s existing 12,000-plus item collection of artifacts conveys the range of human experience embodied in Holocaust history.
Although the new institution will not open its doors until 2022, Museum staff and volunteers continue to engage with the community through digital programs and resources such as virtual speakers, online Holocaust education material, and the Oral History Project, which houses over 100 audio testimonies of St. Louis Holocaust Survivors, Liberators, and Witnesses.
TR,i, a St. Louis-based architecture firm that has worked on construction projects around the country totaling more than $1 billion, is designing the exterior of the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum.
Internationally recognized Museum planning and design firm Gallagher & Associates (G&A), which incorporates interactive design and media into the physical environment to produce immersive experiences that engage, entertain, and create measurable impact, is designing the Museum’s interior. G&A recently worked on the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum in St. Louis and is known nationally for facilities including the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.
A.J. Brown, a general contracting company that serves a variety of clients throughout the United States, has been named as the general contractor on the project.
For more information or to donate, visit STLHolocaustMuseum.org.