Expanded museum plans big schedule of events

“To teach the lessons of the Holocaust to inspire action against bigotry, hatred and violence.”

Jeff lytle

Today The Holocaust Museum and Janet G. and Harvey D. Cohen Education Center is meeting that mission like never before.

The facility, in a shopping center east of U.S. 41 at Imperial Golf Course Boulevard, has completed a $2 million expansion for exhibits, galleries, class space and a catering kitchen, for a total of 9,600 square feet.

The museum has come a long way since launching as a 1998 Golden Gate Middle School class project and opening in 2001 on U.S. 41 south of Pine Ridge Road.

“When students and visitors come to the museum, they are immersed in the history of the Holocaust,” says Susan Suarez, president and CEO of the museum. “Our expansion provides space for new exhibits to go more in depth on important topics. Visitors see actual artifacts from local Holocaust survivors and learn their personal stories. This makes history come alive. They learn the dangers of where hatred can lead and are inspired to stand against prejudice.”

The founding class project was dedicated to the horrible example of man’s inhumanity to man.

Even at their young age, the students realized “we each have the responsibility to stand up to hate and bigotry.”

The classroom will allow larger student field trips and tours and provides meeting space for community organizations.

Overall, the museum says the expansion “will help connect and engage visitors with both the lessons of the past and their crucial importance now, especially given the current atmosphere of unrest and hate in the world in general.”

The refurbished museum has already hosted programs and exhibits including how to spot fake Holocaust artifacts such as yellow stars, armbands, caps, tools from the Warsaw Ghetto and medals. That exhibit runs through March.

From April through October, the museum will feature “Lawyers without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin after 1933,” about what happened to the rule of law under Germany’s Third Reich.

It “systematically undermined fair and just law through humiliation, degradation and legislation leading to expulsion of Jewish lawyers and jurists from the legal profession,” says a museum exhibit preview.

“As the rule of law comes under attack today in both developed and Third World countries, ‘Lawyers Without Rights’ tragically portrays what can happen when the just rule of law disappears –replaced by an arbitrary rule by law that sweeps aside the rights and dignity of selected populations.”

On March 6, Ruth Bielska will be the guest speaker at the museum’s annual Triumph fundraiser – honoring triumph over bigotry, hatred or personal challenges — at the Arthrex Conference Center in Naples. Previous honorees are from around the world and include a Rwandan genocide resistance soldier and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who as a child survived the Holocaust.

“Witness to Goodness,” a lecture series, will be February 7,14 and 21 from 2 to 4 p.m., presented by museum docent Ellaine Rosen, about Holocaust heroes and heroines—both Jews and gentiles.

On March 20, a lecture titled “The Holocaust: Medically Driven Genocide” will be given at 2 p.m. by docent Stuart Mest, M.D.

RSVPs at hmcec.org are required for all the talks. In the fall of 2024, with dates to be announced, the annual “Movies that Matter” film and discussion series will cover human rights issues affecting Southwest Florida and the rest of the country including homelessness, child poverty, antisemitism, racism, real estate redlining and human trafficking.

The museum is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., with the last guests admitted at 3 p.m., closed major U.S. holidays, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

Reservations And Advance Ticket Purchases Visit HMCEC.org

Questions? Call 263-9200 Email info@hmcec.org

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