Virginia Holocaust Museum kicks of capital campaign for improvements

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Holocaust Museum turns 25 next year and it is kicking off that celebration with major renovations.

In May, the museum launched a $2.5 million capital campaign to fund future improvements and its endowment fund.

“Our Master Plan Committee has met for over a year,” said the museum’s Executive Director, Samuel Asher, in a spring update email. “They created a plan that will serve as a guide and expression of a long-range vision in support of the Museum.”

Now that plan is becoming a reality as items with the first part of the project were hoisted in the air on Wednesday. Fifteen brand new HVAC systems will be installed atop the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

“We will be enjoying more efficient air conditioning and more efficient heating shortly,” Asher said.

It is one of the improvements hoping to attract more people to the museum. However, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum has seen a good amount of foot traffic.

“We’ve had over 10,000 visitors since last July when we reopened,” Asher said. “That’s just the people coming in with reservations and off the street.”

Projects through the Capital Campaign hope to bring more new faces into the building.

“You’re going to see a whole new registration desk, a café, the bookstore completely redone, and our gift shop completely redone,” Asher said.

While much of the upcoming work will be done on the inside, there are also plans to update the entryway outside along with some aspects of the building.

“We have to do some investigation about changes because we’re part of Tobacco Row, all changes have to be reviewed,” Asher said.

These improvements will take time, but the executive director is also focused on bringing in new exhibits for its visitors - starting with a children’s memorial.

“It’s an infinity mirror,” Asher said. “It talks about the 1.5 million children who were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust. It’s a very, very important exhibit.”

Asher believes sharing this history has never been more important.

“With what’s happening in our country today, with there being so many divisions, so much hate... this is really important to learn about what’s happened in the past, so we don’t repeat it in the future,” he added.

Another exhibit scheduled for August 2021 is the “Violins of Hope.”

“There are 60 violins that were brought back to life from people who had them during the Holocaust from owners who have since perished,” Asher said. “They each tell a story of someone who lived through the Holocaust and what happened to them and what happened to their family.”

The exhibit will be in Richmond from Aug. 4 – Oct. 24. This is the first time the exhibit has been in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country.

In the last three to four months, the museum has seen a dramatic uptick in visitors, according to Asher.

Meanwhile, the Capital Campaign goal for building projects is $1.5 million and the Endowment Goal is $1 million; for a total of $2.5 million to be raised in honor of the 25th anniversary in 2022.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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