In a granite 85-foot hexagon at the southern end of Battery Park City, this museum's mission is to educate visitors on the "broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries—before, during, and after the Holocaust." Architects Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo designed the six-sided museum to be symbolic of the Star of David, with three floors of exhibits demonstrating the dynamism of Jewish culture. Visitors enter through a gallery that provides context for the early-20th-century artifacts on the first floor: an elaborate screen hand-painted for the fall harvest festival of Sukkoth, tools used by Jewish tradesmen, and wedding invitations. Original documentary films play throughout the museum. The second floor details the rise of Nazism and anti-Semitism, and the ravages of the Holocaust. A gallery covers the doomed final voyage of the SS St. Louis, a ship that crossed the Atlantic twice in 1939, carrying German Jewish refugees in search of safe haven. Signs of hope
are also on display, including a trumpet that Louis Bannet (the "Dutch Louis Armstrong") played for three years in the Auschwitz-Birkenau inmate orchestra. The third floor covers postwar Jewish life. Recent temporary exhibits have explored the history of American Jews who tried to rescue European Jews leading up to and during the Holocaust, as well as the rich Jewish history of Oswiecim, the town the Germans called Auschwitz. The museum's east wing has a theater, memorial garden, library, galleries, and café. A free audio guide, with narration by Meryl Streep and Itzhak Perlman, is available at the admissions desk.