Both publicly and privately funded, the museum, located on the Mall, attracts 1.6 million visitors annually and has hosted nearly 35 million visitors since its opening.
This year’s anniversary is marked by a Washington gathering of Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans, and a four-city national tour. This timeline offers museum highlights:
Congress authorized the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to be a permanent memorial to all victims who perished in the Holocaust.
The museum is dedicated. President Bill Clinton gives the keynote address and Founding Chairman Elie Wiesel invokes his quote “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness,” which is etched in stone at the Hall of Remembrance. The crowd of thousands includes international delegations from countries affected by the Holocaust. The Dalai Lama was the first visitor.
Museum architect James Ingo Freed is awarded the American Institute of Architects’ National Honor Award. Freed and his family fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. He returned to European Holocaust sites for “visceral” inspiration for the museum’s design.
The Bringing the Lessons Home outreach and education program began with a five-year, $1 million grant from the Fannie Mae Foundation. The program for high school students provides tours, supplemental materials about the Holocaust and spring classes. In the summer, students participate in the Bringing the Lesson Home Ambassador Program.
The Committee on Conscience is established by the Holocaust Museum’s council to “work to halt acts of genocide or related crimes against humanity.” Early speakers include Richard Goldstone, a South African judge whose rulings helped defeat apartheid and served as chief U.N. prosecutor of genocide suspects in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
The museum’s first special exhibition is “Assignment: Rescue — the Story of Varian Fry and the Emergency Rescue Committee,” about the American journalist who helped 2,000 refugees escape Vichy France. It is one of eight exhibitions that have been presented in 180 cities across the United States, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia.
D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey works with the museum to create training programs that apply the lessons of the Holocaust to the challenges of law enforcement. Nearly 80,000 police, FBI agents, prosecutors and judges have participated.