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A Narrative Walk Through the New Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum

Visitors expect a robust experience while visiting the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. The exhibits and galleries of a building will connect them to the horrors of the Holocaust and other genocides. They will understand the power and justice of the Nuremberg Trials and the hope for humanity encapsulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Genocide Convention. Finally, they will embrace the duality of fragility and strength of American ideals, reality, and repair.

Fulfilling these expectations is at the core of the Museum’s mission to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference.

The new Museum will illuminate challenging but crucial, heart-wrenching moments in history. As the generation of Holocaust survivors dwindles, the importance of our mission grows. Now more than ever this building will convey our mission, create a space for learning and exploration, and allow for reflection so visitors may fully comprehend the gravity of the information they have just absorbed. The museum aims to transform every visitor.

The 50,000 square foot building’s design it leads visitors through a carefully choreographed sequence of spaces intended to remove the visitor from distractions so that the focus is solely on the exhibits.

The Museum's Courtyard is accessible--a part of the West End Historic District. And, yet it is a microcosm of its own. The visitor is aware of the Museum's messaging and education, but the courtyard offers solace where visitors can collect their thoughts in anticipation of the journey.

The lobby provides a clear view of the courtyard allowing the transition to be seamless. Natural light fills the space. The visitor is aware of the city but removed from its distractions. Here, the visitor may also enter the Special Exhibit Gallery, a flexible space that will host a variety of rotating special exhibits.
From the lobby, the Orientation Theater becomes the departure point for the journey through the exhibition rooms in the building.

The Shoah (Holocaust) section is the first major exhibition space the visitor will experience. It encourages the visitor to focus on the history and inhumanity that were the horrors of the Holocaust and answers the question, how did this happen?

The Human Rights Gallery follows the Shoah section and demonstrates the efforts of humankind to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and to introduces the concept of “never again” which still has not come to fruition.
Next, the Genocide Gallery shows that humanity must do more to stem atrocities. The 10 Stages of Genocide, illustrated my monolithic and detailed art installations, teaches that there is a systemic process that perpetrators of mass murders follow. "I didn't know," can no longer be an excuse to ignore the suffering of others.

American Ideals, Reality, and Repair engages visitors with documents about the foundation of our nation and then explores the history of--and life in--America. The harsh realities tempered some by efforts to repair the effects of assaults on human and civil rights are part of our democratic system.

The exhibit experience culminates in a “call to action,” to embrace ideals, challenge reality and participate in the ongoing repair. The Museum provides the channels to take the first steps to becoming involved on a local or global level with civil discourse, respect for humanity, and gaining resistance to complacency.

The journey culminates in the Reflection and Memorial Room that provide visitors with a serene space in which to reflect on Hope, Rebirth, and Faith, and to memorialize those who died during the Holocaust.

The Architecture

The architecture of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum communicates the notion of the journey through the building and the exhibits. It is a dynamic structure, expressive of the physical and emotional experience, and movement from arrival to departure, with milestones along the way. Structurally, the building ensures an intuitive path for visitors so that the focus is on the experience, without distractions. The architecture is assertive and inviting. It is meant to fit in and to become a landmark in Dallas’ historic West End district.

The Context

The placement of the building on its site responds to a series of considerations: it creates a vibrant open urban space for the neighborhood, it allows for sunlight to reach the Museum. It is compatible with its neighbors--the tourist attractions nearby: the Sixth Floor Museum, Dealey Plaza, and the Old Red Court House. At the same time, the design complies with the City of Dallas and West End Historic District requirements. The building height, setbacks, materiality, lot coverage, parking counts, loading and trash collection zones are satisfactorily met and will not require variances or adjustments to the current zoning.

The Materials

With its exterior cladding of Corten shingles which will acquire a natural patina over time, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will comply with the historic district requirements of masonry and metal façades.