A central mission of the Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh is to educate visitors about one of the darkest periods in world history.
That has been difficult to do lately. Many of the artifacts and documents it uses to illustrate those times are hidden away in storage, because there simply is no space to display them at the center’s current location on McKee Place in Oakland. But that soon won’t be a problem. The center will move to a larger facility next year in Squirrel Hill.
“Now we will have a facility in which we can [play host to] speakers. We will have exhibits that we can keep up a little bit longer. We’ll have more control over the experience that the people we’re interfacing with on those programs will have,” said Joy Braunstein, director of the Holocaust Center.
The center is scheduled to open in the spring at 826-832 Hazelwood Ave., next to the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry. It will offer 2,300 square feet of space for visitors and 3,000 square feet of office, administrative and storage space. The center is leasing the space, and the total budget for the move is less than $100,000, according to Ms. Braunstein.
The Holocaust Center has shared a space with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for the past 2 1/2 years since moving from the Jewish Community Center. The Holocaust Center was not supposed to stay on McKee Place for more than a year, but time dragged on during the search for a new facility.
The new location will give the center more visibility and access to the public. It has a parking lot and is along several major bus lines. The public portion, on the first floor of the building, will be sectioned into three areas: exhibition space, a research area and a classroom, said architect Paul Rosenblatt of Springboard Design, who is designing the facility.
“From the moment you arrive at the building through the entrance and into the experiences of the facility itself, you’re welcomed into a much more clearly public experience than the one that’s currently available,” the architect said.
The additional exhibition space allows for the display of artifacts including World War II troop and battlefield movement maps, photos and family documents.
There are plans for a docent at the door to welcome and direct visitors. A walkable timeline will be on the ceiling and floor of the classroom area.
“Visitors will be able to physically experience the progress of the major events of the Holocaust as they walk along the timeline,” Mr. Rosenblatt said.
The new location and its amenities are an improvement, but for Ms. Braunstein, the center’s aim remains the same.
“For us, those artifacts are only as valuable as the education that they can bring out,” she said.
Andrew Goldstein: email@example.com or 412-263-1352.