Toronto Holocaust Museum by Reich&Petch opens
On June 8, 2023, the Toronto Holocaust Museum opened its doors to the public, unveiling the city’s only museum dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and education. A part of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and located at the Prosserman Jewish Community Centre, at the UJA Federation’s Sherman Campus, the new Museum was established to educate visitors about the atrocities of the past, while revealing connections between the Holocaust, world events, and our present-day society. It replaces a Holocaust Education Centre that previously operated from a nearby building on the Sherman Campus.
Encompassing nearly 10,000 square feet of state-of-the-art gallery and learning spaces, the Museum houses four themed galleries, complimented by a learning lab to inspire continued dialogue and discussion. A 40-seat theatre showcases three immersive film experiences that help visitors at different learning levels understand the context of the Holocaust.
Reich&Petch’s design for the space includes 11 Testimony Stations, developed using large format touchscreen monitors, allowing visitors to hear first-hand accounts from survivors. Augmented Reality technology, accessed through iPads, immerse visitors in the exhibitions and invite them to follow the story of individual survivors, adding a layered dimension atop the physical exhibitions. The exhibition includes over 220 minutes of survivor testimony and showcases more than 70 Holocaust survivors’ experiences.
“Reich&Petch is honoured to have been involved in this important project as architects and exhibit designers, and to have helped the Museum reimagine their visitor experiences,” writes the designers. “The Museum will be a model for a new generation of Holocaust museums and an important resource to the City of Toronto for many years to come.”
“As we enter the post-Survivor era, society is rapidly losing access to the firsthand testimony of those who bore witness to the horrors of the Holocaust as well as the stories of their vibrant lives before the rise of Nazism, their resistance, bravery, and resilience,” said Dara Solomon, Executive Director, Toronto Holocaust Museum. “To ensure history does not repeat itself and future generations continue to learn from their legacy, it’s essential to keep these stories alive.”
The Museum’s testimonies in audio and video form from Holocaust Survivors are intertwined with historical exhibits. Developed in close collaboration with the Museum’s educators, the exhibitions and use of technology are designed to facilitate interactive, inquiry-based learning.
“Antisemitism, and hate of all kinds, is a growing threat in Canada and more specifically, in Toronto. It is urgent that we meet this threat head-on with increased education and awareness,” said Solomon.
Released in May, the Toronto Police Service’s annual hate crime report revealed that, although the Jewish community represents just 3.4 percent of Toronto’s total population, it was victimized in 26 percent of the city’s reported hate crimes in 2022. The Toronto Holocaust Museum is positioned to be a leader in Holocaust education, playing a fundamental role in bridging the lessons of society’s violent histories with modern manifestations of hate to ensure that antisemitism and all forms of hate are confronted, so that ‘Never Again’ truly means ‘Never Again’.