Newly Expanded Museum Preserves the Legacy of the Victims of the Holocaust

The St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum opened its doors after an extensive renovation on November 2, 2022. At over four times the size of the previous museum, the new space will serve 60,000 guests per year, half of which are expected to be students. Its mission is to “Use the history and lessons of the Holocaust to reject hatred, promote understanding, and inspire change.” 

“This Museum is the product of hard work from so many people in the community,” said Brian Herstig, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. “We look forward to sharing this world class institution with the region and serving the community for generations to come.”   

What makes such a significant transformation possible? Fueled by the vision of its board and the passion of its staff and constituents, the Jewish Federation began discussions of a new museum and launched a $21 million capital campaign in 2017.  

Photo and video wall of St. Louis Holocaust survivors.

Mitch Markow, founder of Two Sister’s Foundation, a fund held at the St. Louis Community Foundation, “knew instantly” he wanted to stand behind the project. Markow has always felt close to Jewish causes. Raised in a Jewish household, Markow spent much of his life fighting antisemitism as a member of the Anti-Defamation League, work he described as “rewarding but overwhelming.” 

“When the Jewish Federation first approached me about the new Museum, it was clear to me that it was an endeavor that would live on for generations,” said Markow. “I am struck by how the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum places emphasis on how many local families were affected by the Holocaust,” said Markow of his visit to the new Museum. “You’re able to read compelling, personal stories which show how this travesty happened. It makes you think about just how vulnerable life can be.” 

The St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum boasts new and expanded facilities, such as archive space, research rooms, classrooms, a special exhibit gallery, and auditorium. The new Impact Lab, which Markow is particularly excited to see take shape, will give visitors a space to examine contemporary issues and events like genocide and hate crimes through the lens of the Holocaust when it opens in spring 2023. 

Suitcase of Leo Wolf, Holocaust survivor who moved to St. Louis with his wife, Sarah, in 1949.

“The former museum did a great job telling the story of the Holocaust through people’s experiences,” said Amy Lutz, Manager of Marketing and Communications, St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum. “The new museum actually gives visitors the tools to stand up against bigotry and antisemitism—prejudice against Jewish people.” 

In addition to the transformational new space, the Museum will soon undergo a separation from the Jewish Federation, a process that involves applying for its own 501(c)3 status and selecting a Board of Directors

“We’re very proud of what we had before and of the Museum’s role as part of the Federation, but these changes will help both organizations thrive,” said Amanda Miller, Vice President of Communications, Jewish Federation.

Lutz echoed Miller’s sentiments. “The two organizations were better suited to grow separately, but in a close relationship. The Jewish Federation founded the Museum over 25 years ago and will always be our closest partners. We will continue to share services and work together as community partners towards our common goals.” 

Click here to learn more about the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum and plan your visit. 

Click here to learn more about the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.