The Smidt Foundation Grants $5 Million for Holocaust Museum LA Expansion

Holocaust Museum LA has received a $5 million gift from The Smidt Foundation, moving the institution closer to its goal of breaking ground this summer on a dramatic campus expansion. The expansion will double Holocaust Museum LA’s existing footprint in Pan Pacific Park, increase visitor capacity and educational programs to greater numbers of students and schools, and incorporate cutting-edge technology to preserve and present Holocaust survivor testimonies.

The Smidt Foundation gift is the largest-ever contribution to the museum from a family or foundation without familial ties to the Holocaust or the survivors who founded the museum more than 60 years ago. The gift will be used as a challenge grant to encourage more supporters – especially the next generations of donors – to build on the legacy and courage of the museum’s founding survivors and their families. Through the “Tree of Life Challenge,” The Smidt Foundation will match all gifts 2:1, effectively tripling the impact of each donation.

The Smidt Foundation was founded by Susan and Eric Smidt to support organizations working to achieve opportunity, justice, equality and safety for all. Eric Smidt, CEO and owner of Harbor Freight Tools, said, “We believe deeply that it is our responsibility to ensure that future generations learn the lessons of the Holocaust and, in particular, the danger of silence in the face of hate.” 


Susan and Eric Smidt Photo courtesy of The Smidt Foundation


The Anti-Defamation League’s recent report showed a 34% rise in antisemitic incidents in 2021 and a major surge in 20 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles where ADL documented 14 antisemitic assaults in 2021 – in addition to incidents of harassment and vandalism. The expansion of the museum and its programs is part of the effort to reverse the rise in antisemitic and other forms of hatred that have led more than half of all Asian, Black and Latino Americans to say they feel discriminated against in a survey conducted by The Asian American Foundation.

When complete, the Jona Goldrich Campus, designed by award-winning architect Hagy Belzberg, will feature outdoor reflective spaces; large galleries and classrooms; an auditorium theater for survivor talks, film screenings, concerts, conferences and public programs; a new pavilion to house an authentic Nazi-era boxcar found outside Majdanek; and a dedicated theater for USC Shoah Foundation’s “Dimensions in Testimony” exhibition that allows visitors to have a virtual conversation with a Holocaust survivor using a holographic capture and voice recognition software.

The campus is expected to open in 2024, allowing the museum to immediately triple its current capacity to 150,000 visitors, including 60,000 students. By 2030 the museum expects to welcome half a million visitors annually.

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