The Holocaust Museum Houston’s permanent exhibition is appropriately titled “Bearing Witness.” Weaving together film footage, documents, photographs and other artifacts, the museum documents one of humanity’s darkest chapters. The walk through this exhibit begins with life before the rise of the Nazi regime, slowly progressing toward the devastating extermination of millions of Jews and others.
The centerpiece of this installation are the first-hand accounts of the genocidal war and its aftermath provided by survivors who now reside in the Houston area. These compelling oral histories are highlighted in two short films. Holocaust Museum Houston also hosts temporary exhibitions that explore subject matter related to its permanent holdings, including art and photography.
Charged with educating students and the public about the dangers of prejudice and hatred in society, The Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims of the Holocaust and honoring the legacy of the survivors. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, they teach the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
The permanent exhibit at the Museum is Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers, which focuses on the stories of Holocaust survivors living in the Houston metropolitan area. A tour begins with a look at life before the Holocaust. Visitors then see the beginnings of Nazism and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. The displays progress through the disruption of normal life, to segregation, to imprisonment in concentration camps and, finally, to extermination. The roles of collaborators, by-standers, rescuers, and liberators are portrayed through artifacts, film reels, photographs, and text panels. The main exhibit ends with the moving short films, Voices and Voices II, which alternate daily in the 100-seat theater. These films are compilations of verbal testimony from area survivors.
World War II Holocaust Railcar
The Museum’s newest addition to the Permanent Exhibit is a 1942 World War II railcar of the type used to carry millions of Jews to their deaths. The railcar was formally dedicated and opened to the public during 10th Anniversary ceremonies on Sunday, March 5, 2006.
The Museum also includes two changing galleries for art and photography exhibits. The Central Gallery is naturally located in the center of the Museum building and leads guests to the library. The Josef and Edith Mincberg Gallery is a larger hall for more extensive displays. The changing exhibits are designed to complement and further explore the issues presented in the Permanent Exhibit.
Holocaust Museum Houston is also widely known as an education center, and the facility includes two classroom areas and a research library. The Boniuk Library and Resource Center contains more than 4,000 titles relating to the Holocaust, World War II, religion and anti-Semitism. The video section contains more than 300 titles on related subjects, and the tapes can be viewed in the Museum’s video room, or they can be checked out. A full-time librarian manages the center, and a full-time registrar is responsible for maintaining the Museum’s archives. Thousands of historic and original photographs, documents, letters, diaries and other artifacts from the 1930s and 1940s are cataloged in the archives. Researchers can examine these documents and artifacts by appointment.
Lack Family Memorial Room
Two other areas of Holocaust Museum Houston allow for reflection and meditation. The Lack Family Memorial Room is a quiet place for contemplation. It contains the three-part work of art comprising the Wall of Remembrance, the Wall of Tears and the Wall of Hope. The Memorial Wall is a place where local Holocaust survivors can commemorate their lost loved ones.
Eric Alexander Garden of Hope
Outside the Memorial Room is a quiet garden known as the Eric Alexander Garden of Hope. It is dedicated to the eternal spirit of children and is in memory of the one and a half million children who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
Holocaust Museum Houston
5401 Caroline Street, Houston, Texas 77004; Tel. 713.942.8000