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JAN 18, 2010

Holocaust Institution To Expand

Site’s planners say it won’t conflict with Museum of Tolerance.
By David Haldane
Up Front Los Angeles Business Journal


  A now-obscure museum of Holocaust exhibits and artifacts in

an office building on Wilshire Boulevard is about to become far more

conspicuous.
    A 29,000-square-foot facility for the Los Angeles Museum of
the Holocaust is well along in construction at Pan Pacific Park, just east
of the Grove shopping center.
    The museum, which will have a soft opening this summer
followed by a gala opening in October, will be L.A.’s second stand-alone
institution devoted to World War II atrocities against the Jews. The first,
the Museum of Tolerance, opened on Pico Boulevard in 1993.
    “Being in a vital public place like the park will allow us to fulfill
our mission of educating the public,” said Mark Rothman, executive
director of the collection, which now occupies 6,000 square feet near
the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
    The exhibit traces the history of Germany’s persecution of
European Jews from 1938 to 1945, as well as the 1948 founding of
modern Israel.
    In moving to the new facility, Rothman said, the museum will
expand its collection ¬¬– to include many items now in storage – at a
much more visible site. “The new building,” he said, “gives us an
opportunity to transfer our exhibit into the 21st century.”
    Actually, the museum began in 1962 in a building shared by
the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. After being displaced by
the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, the museum began a nomadic
period and has been in temporary rented space for the last few years.
The museum board has been raising money and seeking permits since
2003 to build its permanent home.
    Whether the city can support two major Holocaust museums
remains an open question. A spokesperson for the Museum of
Tolerance declined to comment.
    But Jay Sanderson, president of the Jewish Federation,
which gives the museum money and owns part of the collection, said he
doubts the two museums will compete because they have different
missions.
Several exhibits at the Museum of Tolerance are about other recent
and historical human rights infringements, while the new museum
focuses strictly on the Holocaust.
    The museum’s board has raised $16 million for construction
costs and expects to raise at least $4 million more for an endowment to
cover operations.
    But attracting future donations for the increasing number of
Holocaust museums nationwide (already 16, with an additional 150
more modest centers) could prove daunting, Rothman admitted. That’s
especially so as the traditional supporters of such endeavors –
Holocaust survivors and their children – are dying out.
    “It means broadening our base of support,” he said. “That
involves literally one donor, one day at a time.”