United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collections and Conservation Center

Holocaust Memorial Museum Collections & Conservation Center
Holocaust Memorial Museum Collections & Conservation Center
Holocaust Memorial Museum Collections & Conservation Center
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Holocaust Memorial Museum Collections & Conservation Center

Collections storage facilities can often be dull box-like structures, existing only as reliable enclosures. Our team questioned this assumption, and asked why a facility — especially one connected to the most prominent Holocaust museum in the world — couldn’t be something more? This project redefines assumptions for design and performance in collections care, and ultimately, expands the capability and potential of the museum fulfill its mission.

Client

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Location

Maryland

Markets/Services

Cultural, Archives & Collections Care, MEP Engineering, Architecture, Building Enclosure Consulting, Structural Engineering, Interiors, Landscape Architecture, Lighting Design, Programming, Fire Protection and Life Safety Engineering

Size

100,000 SF

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s mission is to inspire citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. It is a mission that hinges upon preserving the memory and physical evidence, left behind by victims, survivors, rescuers, witnesses, and liberators of the Holocaust. The new David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center is a state-of-the-art, permanent home and research hub for the Museum’s growing collection.

The museum was faced with an all-too-common problem among collections-driven institutions: their holdings had outstripped the capacity of their existing collections facility, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to provide appropriate storage conditions for their irreplaceable collection with aging systems. They needed a facility that brought their collections out of an inaccessible aging warehouse into a vibrant research and conservation-friendly center that could be the permanent home for the collection of record of the Holocaust. As survivors and memories continue to fade, this evidence will eventually be the sole surviving witness to history.

Conservation US Holocaust Museum SmithGroup

Our team was tasked with much more than properly accommodating a collection and planning for its growth. This building would be a home to the dedicated staff that care for this invaluable evidence, that scholars rely on for research, and special guests with family connections to the collection or an interest in donating. 

With subtle nods to the design of the downtown museum, with its unique angular massing and forced perspective, the collection conservation and research center reveals its form as you enter the site, morphing from an impenetrable dark mass, to a welcoming portal to the collection.

Framed by the museum's director as "the most important building we will ever build other than the museum itself," the new David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center enables generations of scholars and researchers to sustain our collective memory and help to ensure we as a culture remain vigilant about the dangers of unchecked hatred and the need to prevent genocide.