Photo Credit:

Construction to Begin on Permanent Holocaust Museum in Phoenix

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society announced plans to construct a permanent Holocaust education center in Phoenix on Tuesday. To fund the project, they will start a capital campaign.

The AZJHS campus near Central Avenue and McDowell Road will be extended and named the Hilton Family Holocaust Education Center. It is projected to be finished by the year 2026.

The new building will be a space covering 27,000 square feet, equipped with galleries. It will have four main topics: the Holocaust in the modern world; a timeline of the Holocaust; teaching about the Holocaust; and a journey from detestation to optimism regarding the Holocaust.

Valley-based artist Robert Sutz’s “We Remember” project will be featured, as well as a series of rotating exhibitions that focus on other genocides from world history.

At an event to reveal the new center, Phoenix Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari announced that this facility will be a cutting-edge one that can educate people of all ages about the Holocaust and atrocities that have taken place in other parts of the globe.

What are the methods of instruction that the Holocaust Center intends to utilize?

The Valley’s Holocaust survivors will be the foundation of the center. Through the use of technology, their stories will continue to be told long after they have passed away.

Oscar Knoblauch, a Phoenix resident who is a survivor of the Holocaust, devotes a good deal of his time talking to classrooms about this tragedy. When the center is finished, however, those same students will be able to hold a conversation with a holographic version of him.

Dr. Lawrence Bell, the Executive Director of AZJHS, describes the project as one that features the voices of survivors like Knoblauch, rather than an artificial intelligence or computer system.

Bell stated that the current generation of students is the last one to have the privilege of meeting a Holocaust survivor in person. Those who come after them will never have the opportunity to say “I met someone who lived through the Holocaust”.

What is the significance of learning about the Holocaust?

Bell expressed his belief that if survivors of the Holocaust don’t have the opportunity to tell their stories, there could be doubt surrounding its occurrence.

The AZJHS has concern about a continuing increase in intense antisemitism. To combat this, they suggest that education is the answer as well as providing a human face to the people who have been afflicted by discrimination and prejudice. The aspirations for the center to become an aid for teachers all around Arizona.

In the near future, our history, those who survived, will no longer be around, which is why it’s essential to find interactive tools and objects that can be used to narrate events from the origin.

Once the center is completed, it will enable educators to arrange activities like field trips, lectures, and guided tours. The passing of House Bill 2241 in 2021 obligates middle and high schools to educate students about the Holocaust at least once.

What was the source of financing for the Phoenix center?

The outcome of the Phoenix GO Bond in the current building of the museum and the ballot passed in the November election makes it possible for the museum’s expansion to be funded with $2 million from the total $50.3 million set aside for “Arts & Culture.”

Donations were granted to the project by the Steven J. Hilton Foundation, who the center will be dedicated to. More details about fundraising are available online.