25 March 2019
Since its inception in 1953, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, has been gathering artifacts, documentation and testimonies from the period of the Holocaust. To date, Yad Vashem's collections include more than 210 million documents, 500,000 photographs, 131,000 survivor testimonies, 32,400 artifacts and 11,500 works of art – all related to the Holocaust.
These collections are growing every year thanks in large part to Yad Vashem's "Gathering the Fragments" campaign, which aims to collect Holocaust-related items from the public. Yad Vashem is committed to safeguarding these historic treasures under the highest archival standards in order to offer access researchers, educators and members of the public who visit Yad Vashem from around the world.
In light of this, as well as recent enhancements in preservation and storage technologies, a decision was made to build the new Shoah Heritage Campus at Yad Vashem, which will house at its heart the new Shoah Heritage Collections Center. The Shoah Heritage Collections Center will provide state-of-the-art solutions for optimal preservation of the artifacts, photographs, artworks and documents housed at Yad Vashem. The stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust will thus continue to be told, and their memory secured for the coming generations.
Covering an area of 5,880 square meters, the Shoah Heritage Collections Center will be situated mostly underground. This large area will allow for optimal control and supervision of the conservation climate required for preservation of the artifacts. Additionally, the Center will streamline the process of receiving, preserving and cataloguing items collected by Yad Vashem, with the express goal of making them accessible to the public. The Center will thus also include galleries for the display of items from Yad Vashem's Collections, specially designed storage facilities, state-of-the-art preservation laboratories visible to visitors, and work areas for the professional staff of Yad Vashem. In addition to the Center, the Shoah Heritage Campus will feature a newly renovated auditorium, the Families and Children's Exhibition Gallery, and a curatorial center.
The cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Shoah Heritage Campus will take place on the Mount of Remembrance on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2019. The Campus is projected to open in the summer of 2021.
"The Germans Nazis were determined not only to annihilate the Jewish people, but also to obliterate their identity, memory, culture and heritage," remarked Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. "For many, all that remains are a treasured work of art, a personal artifact that survived with them, a photograph kept close to their person, a diary, or a note. By preserving these precious items – that are of great importance not just to the Jewish people, but also to humanity as a whole – and revealing them to the public, they will act as the voice of the victims and the survivors, and serve as an everlasting memory."
Yad Vashem has embarked on a campaign to raise funds for the new Shoah Heritage Campus from a wide variety of private and public donors. To date, a large portion of the capital needed to establish the new Campus has already been collected. Yad Vashem remains committed to procuring the remainder of the funds necessary for this vital project.