Last Updated on January 27, 2024
The Zekelman Holocaust Center (The HC), (28123 Orchard Lake Rd, Farmington Hills, MI) reopens its core exhibit on Sunday, January 28, 2024, marking a significant milestone in The HC’s multi-million-dollar renovation project. The timing of the re-opening aligns with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed globally on Saturday, January 27.
The Zekelman Holocaust Center has provided Holocaust education at its current Farmington Hills location since 2004. Renovations began in May 2023 with a comprehensive, $31 million transformation, reaffirming its commitment to preserving the legacy of Holocaust victims and survivors. The new exhibit, a collaboration with renowned design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates, brings a fresh perspective by centering the voices of those who experienced the Holocaust and highlighting survivors who made Michigan their home after World War II.
The new exhibit forgoes a traditional didactic approach in favor of Holocaust victim and survivor voices, making extensive use of archival footage, images, and artifacts, as well as interactive video of survivor testimony to place the voices of those impacted by the Holocaust as its focus.
“Memorializing the six million is the foundation of all of our activities,” Eli Mayerfeld, CEO of The Zekelman Holocaust Center said. “The greatest differentiating factor between the original and the new exhibit is the centering of the voices of those who experienced the Holocaust. Throughout the exhibit, visitors will hear the personal stories of those who survived the Holocaust and rebuilt their lives in Michigan after the war. By localizing the history from the perspective of those who lived it, rather than those who perpetrated it, we are showing that the Holocaust did not happen so long ago or so far away.”
The decision to undertake this extensive renovation stems from The HC’s recognition of the urgency to ensure the stories and experiences of Holocaust survivors remain accessible to future generations. As the population of survivors diminishes, The HC is acutely aware of the need to adapt its exhibits to meet the evolving needs of present and future visitors.
Visitors familiar with the former iteration of the core exhibit will encounter new spaces shaped by the philosophy and mission of the redesign.
“The area that used to be the ‘Abyss’ is now called ‘People and Possessions,'” Mark Mulder, Director of Curatorial Affairs, said. “It features artifacts that represent the several types of loss people experienced at the hands of the Nazis. For example, there are wedding rings found by U.S. soldiers in Dachau. We use the objects, along with archival footage from before and after the Holocaust, to help our visitors understand that people lost their material items, but they also lost their partners, families, and communities.”
About The Zekelman Holocaust Center
Founded in 1984 by Michigan survivors who were intent on creating a lasting memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, The Zekelman Holocaust Center is guided by its mission to engage, educate, and empower by remembering the Holocaust.
Each year the Center welcomes thousands of visitors who benefit from having a local resource where they can learn the lessons of history’s darkest period. Exhibits and artifacts on display include survivor testimonies, documents, paintings, and films, an authentic WWII-era boxcar, and a sapling from the tree located outside Anne Frank’s hiding place window that is described in her diary. The Center also invites the public to make use of its extensive Library Archive, which contains more than 20,000 volumes.
Embedded in the community, the Center’s Museum Educators and Docents tell the human story of the Holocaust to school and adult groups through customized tours, training, and programs. Participants are empowered to apply the lessons learned to create a compassionate society where people take responsible action.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 9:30 am to 5:00 pm and Friday 9:30 am to 3:00 pm. The last admission is one hour before closing.
Wheelchair accessible. Free parking.
For additional information, visit www.holocaustcenter.org or call 248-553-2400.