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OCT 14, 2010

LA Holocaust Museum Opens Doors To New $18M Home (CBS)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hundreds of people toured the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust during its grand opening Thursday at Pan Pacific Park.

The museum, founded in 1961, has been moved four times over the years, but never had its own building and has always had limited space. But its new $18 million, high-tech, very green museum changes all that, executive director Mark Rothman said.

The building, designed so it is partially underground to preserve green space, is located next to the Martyrs Memorial, built in the park 18 years ago.

There will be many familiar artifacts, including a concentration camp uniform, a partial replica of a boxcar used to haul Jews to death camps and a death camp model.

All the added space will allow more artifacts to be brought out of archives and put on display, Rothman said.

In addition to a touch-screen computer table that seems to allow 25,000 photographs to float, there is a testimonial wall with 85 video screens that allow visitors to hear survivor stories in their own words.

Attendance is expected to swell from around 13,000 a year to more than 50,000 a year. But there will never be an entry fee to the museum, Rothman said.

Fundraising for the new building started in 2004 with a $3 million gift from museum board member John Martz, who wanted to honor his parents, survivors of multiple camps, Rothman said.

Attorney Randy Schoenberg donated $6 million to the museum after recovering five Nazi-looted Gustav Klimt paintings for Maria Altmann of Los Angeles. When the paintings were sold or auctioned off in 2006, he received a sizable award.

He has been chairman of the museum’s board since 2005.

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