This museum asks visitors to consider how the Holocaust was made possible by the choices of individuals, institutions, and governments, and what lessons they hold for us today. The permanent exhibition tells the stories of the millions of Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, political prisoners, the mentally ill, and others killed by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The exhibitions are detailed and sometimes graphic; the experiences memorable and powerful.
Upon arrival, you are issued an "identity card" containing biographical information on a real person from the Holocaust. As you move through the museum, you read sequential updates on your card.
Hitler's rise to power and the spread of European anti-Semitism are thoroughly documented in the museum's early exhibits, with films of Nazi rallies, posters, newspaper articles, and recordings of Hitler's speeches immersing you in the world that led to the Holocaust.
You are confronted with the Holocaust in
the exhibit The Final Solution, which details the Nazis' murder of 6 million Jews. Exhibits include footage of scientific experiments done on Jews, artifacts such as a freight car like those used to transport Jews to concentration camps, and crematoria implements.
Also on view is Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration & Complicity in the Holocaust, which examines how the Holocaust was made possible by decisions made by ordinary individuals. From Memory to Action studies genocide after the Holocaust.
After this powerful experience, the Hall of Remembrance, filled with candles, provides a much-needed space for quiet reflection.
Like the history it covers, the museum can be disturbing; it's not recommended for children under 11, although Daniel's Story, in a ground-floor exhibit not requiring tickets, is designed for children ages eight and up. Ask for the Family Guide that accompanies the exhibits for children.
Plan to spend two to three hours here.
Timed-entry passes (distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the 14th Street entrance starting at 10 or available in advance through the museum's website with a $1/ticket service fee) are necessary for the permanent exhibition from March through August. Allow extra time to enter the building in spring and summer, when long lines can form. From September through February, no passes are required.