Formerly known as the Holocaust Center, the Florida Holocaust Museum is dedicated to honoring the people who suffered and lost their lives during the Holocaust in the Second World War. Founded in 1992 by Walter and Edith Lobenberg, German Jews who immigrated to the United States to escape persecution in Nazi Germany.
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The Florida Holocaust Museum was founded in 1992 by husband and wife Walter and Edith Lobenberg, who were born in Germany, but fled to America after experiencing and narrowly escaping the infamous Kristallnacht in Frankfurt in 1938. Once in America, Walter Lobenberg was drafted in 1942 and served in the United States Army for the remainder of the Second World War. He then met Edith Lobenberg whom he married in 1948.
The Florida Holocaust Museum was established with the aim of educating people about the dignity and worth of human life to prevent future genocides from ever happening again. Originally founded as the Holocaust Center in the Jewish Community Center of Pinellas County, the Museum's first exhibit was about Anne Frank and proved incredibly successful, attracting 24,000 visitors within the first month. The Center also ran lectures, teaching seminars, and commemorative events in which guests could participate and began to connect with local schools, providing them with teacher training programs, study guides, and presentations by Holocaust survivors.
By 1996 the exponential growth of the Holocaust Center required a larger space and the Museum moved to its current location, a former bank with 27,000 square feet on 5th Street South in St. Petersburg. The building was renovated by Israeli-born architect Nick Benjacob and prominently features the hard, suppressing shapes of triangle, which reflect the depression and that is showcased inside of the museum.
The Holocaust Center officially changed its name to the Florida Holocaust Museum in 1998 and welcomed 65,000 visitors in its first year. The new Museum building features three floors with the Museum's permanent exhibit, as well as the extensive archives and library on the first floor, and the temporary and traveling galleries on the second and third floors.
The Florida Holocaust Museum features a permanent collection housed on the first floor of the Museum entitled 'History, Heritage, and Hope.' The traveling exhibit takes the form of a self-guided audio tour, which travels through the history of the Holocaust from life and the days of antisemitism before World War II to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis and his anti-Jewish legislation. The exhibit features a variety of artifacts, items, and objects from the Holocaust era, as well as showcases the ghettoes in which many Jews lived, as well as other victim groups, heroic rescues. The exhibition ends with horrifying sections about concentration camps and killing centers and an actual boxcar from Gdynia in Poland that was used to transport victims to the work camps and, ultimately, their deaths. The caboose rests on a section of original track in the center of the exhibition and stands as a silent tribute to those people who lost their lives in the Holocaust. The final area of the permanent collection features a 'Lessons for Today' section which highlights similar acts of hatred and genocides that occur today.
The temporary exhibits of the Museum can be found on the second and third floors of the building and cover a variety of topics ranging from informative presentations about related subjects such as the Nuremberg Trials to artistic interpretations of the events surrounding the Holocaust. The third floor is also home to a large open-plan gallery where lectures, seminars, presentations and talks about the Holocaust and related topics are held.
The Florida Holocaust Museum offers an array of educational and community-based programs with the aim of raising awareness of human rights. Programs include Teaching Trunks, which provides free teaching materials for different age groups about the Holocaust for free. In addition to the Teaching Trunks program, the Museum also participates in the local educational process by sending speakers to various schools and taking part in classes. Additional educational agendas include volunteering programs for all ages.
The Florida Holocaust Museum is located at 55 5th Street South in St. Petersburg. Visitors to the Museum can explore the exhibitions on informative docent-led tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 1:30 pm.
Back to: St. Petersburg, Florida
55 5th St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, Phone: 727-820-0100