On April 28, 2013, in the presence of a historic gathering of almost 1,000 Holocaust survivors, World War II veterans, and rescuers to mark the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 20th anniversary, Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield announced an urgent effort to secure the future of Holocaust memory. Led by honorary chair Elie Wiesel and under the banner of “Never Again. What You Do Matters,” the $540 million comprehensive campaign will allow the Museum to make critical investments to keep Holocaust memory alive as a relevant, transformative force in the 21st century.
In remarks to some 4,000 attendees at the 20th Anniversary National Tribute Dinner on April 28, Wiesel spoke of the founding vision to create a living memorial. Prior to the dinner he explained that the Museum has exceeded all expectations, but in a changing world, “ … the task is never over ... with great imagination, with passion, and with fervor we must begin again.”
“When the Museum opened, we put Holocaust memory on the National Mall … we now must inscribe memory across the map and conscience of the world,” Bloomfield says about the campaign. “We are launching this campaign to ensure the permanence of what we’ve built and to build something new—a transformative global force against the vast span of ignorance, intolerance, and indifference, the ever-present danger that the unthinkable is always possible.”
The world leader in Holocaust education, the Museum is uniquely positioned to address rising Holocaust denial, antisemitism, hate, and contemporary genocide. The campaign will provide the resources to do so while creating greater global awareness of the Holocaust and its continuing relevance.
“We are fortunate to have supporters who share this vision—and who understand the need for the Museum to assume a larger role in a smaller, more dangerous world at this turning point,” explains Bloomfield. “Twenty years after the founding of the Museum, the timeless lessons of the Holocaust—the fragility of democracy, the nature of hate, and the consequences of indifference—are more urgent than ever.”
The comprehensive campaign will allow the Museum to intensify efforts to rescue the evidence, to sponsor groundbreaking research to advance understanding of why the Holocaust happened, to create innovative strategies to educate and engage an increasingly diverse global audience in new ways, and to advance the emerging field of genocide prevention.
The Museum, which anticipates that its collection of evidence will double in the next decade, announced a gift of $15 million from Holocaust survivors David and Fela Shapell and their family to help build a new Collections and Conservation Center. “This state-of-the-art facility will house the institution’s most precious asset—its unparalleled collections that not only document the Holocaust but serve as the Museum’s most powerful educational tool,” according to Bloomfield.
Another major objective of the campaign is to double the size of the Museum’s endowment to secure the Museum’s global impact and ensure the permanence of Holocaust memory and relevance in an increasingly uncertain future.
Gifts secured during the quiet phase of the nine-year campaign total $258.7 million and represent the broad spectrum of Museum donors. “The success of this campaign requires commitments at every level; we each have a role to play,” explains Tom A. Bernstein, Museum chairman and one of the national co-chairs of the campaign. “This is a turning point for the Museum and the cause it leads. Complacency is no option when the survivor generation is diminishing.”