A reality of expansion
Front Row L to R: Treasurer Alan Englander, Vice Chair Fred Roth, Maureen Lerner, Development Chair, Museum President & CEO Susan Suarez, Board Chair Stuart Price cutting ribbon, Naples Chamber of Commerce Representative Matthew Morinello, & past Museum Board Chair Fred Hirschovits.
Photo courtesy of Charlie McDonald Photography
“I just hope we can expand,” said late museum benefactor Janet G. Cohen to Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center President and CEO Susan Suarez during the 2018 ceremonial “Demolition Day” when construction began on the museum’s new permanent home. The permanent location was a long-awaited dream made possible by Janet’s generous gift to the museum’s first capital campaign. The late Naples philanthropist cared deeply about children and felt that the museum’s work to educate students about the lessons of the Holocaust was extremely important.
Herbert H. Schiff Classroom rendering – Courtesy of David Corban Architect
Janet’s wish for expansion is now a reality. On Saturday, November 4th, 2023, the museum re-opened following a recently completed, extensive six-month expansion and renovation project. The museum previously purchased two adjacent office suites which have been combined to create the new North Wing, adding another 3,600 square feet to the property. The renovation portion of the project allowed for major renovations to each of the existing museum’s galleries including updated exhibits, additional displays of artifacts, and interactive exhibits. The new North Wing is comprised of the Auschwitz Gallery, the Estelle and Stuart Price Gallery for Special Exhibits, the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Genocide Gallery, the Herbert H. Schiff Classroom, and relocated Education Department offices. The Price Gallery has the capacity to display larger special exhibits from other Museums, as well as larger exhibits created in-house with items from the museum’s permanent collection archives. The Einhorn Genocide Gallery is a new addition dedicated to an overview of human rights and genocides through history. The Schiff Classroom will allow the museum to host larger student field trips and private group tours. The classroom also provides a new meeting space for community organizations.
As part of its grand re-opening, the museum hosted a special Family Day event with children’s programming and a special Veterans Day program. The latter featured complimentary museum admission, and a discussion with Heinz Wartski, Holocaust Survivor and Korean War veteran.
The award-winning museum’s mission is to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to inspire action against bigotry, hatred, and violence. Founded in 2001, the museum was inspired by a local Naples middle school’s classroom project on the Holocaust. Age-appropriate Holocaust education programs are offered for middle and high school students in five Southwest Florida counties. The museum also hosts museum field trips, pop-up museum exhibits, and Holocaust education workshops for teachers. The traveling boxcar exhibit, on loan to the museum from F.E. and Jack Nortman and The Boxcar Foundation, visits local schools, public libraries, and other locations in Southwest Florida. Private group tours are also available. The museum is open year-round, with permanent and special traveling exhibits, film and lecture series, and special events. Upcoming exhibits include Forgeries and the Holocaust in December 2023, Stitching History from the Holocaust from January – March 2024, and Lawyers without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin after 1933 from April through October 2024. Please visit the museum’s website for more information: hmcec.org.