Sharing the important lessons of the Holocaust

By D. K. Christi, Spotlight News Magazine

A grand opening on November 10 will celebrate the new facilities designed by Corban Architecture at the recently opened Holocaust Museum and Cohen Education Center at 975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd. in Naples.

A unique experience starts at the entrance with a larger-than- life Anne Frank photomosaic that carries a message of hope. Above Frank’s face are words from her diary: “How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world.”

Over 7,000 black and white images of WWII/Holocaust-era family photos, concentration camp prisoners, documents, posters, planes, buildings and period pieces compose the photomosaic portrait of Anne Frank by artist Robert Silvers. Also included in the piece are black and white portraits taken by local photographer Eric Kellar of local residents Anatole Kurdsjuk, Lorie Mayer (museum co-founder and founding curator), Peter Thomas and Bob Miksa in honor of survivors and liberators.

President and CEO Susan Suarez accepted her position just two years ago in time to kick off the first capital campaign to further the museum’s mission, “to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to inspire action against bigotry, hatred and violence,” said the soft-spoken Suarez. The position was personal to her, coming after her two children each participated in one of the museum’s extensive education programs offered in area schools and for local organizations.

Children’s voices are common at the museum where local survivors and liberators share their life stories. The museum has recorded many of these personal experiences, so museum visitors may listen to them and their stories are not lost to future generations.

Age-appropriate educational programs emphasize the importance of each person’s contribution to a kinder and more accepting world. Anti-bullying education components are included.

The 6,000-square-foot, modern design of the new building has space for over 1,000 artifacts, photographs and documents that were moved by volunteers and museum staff from the original 4,500-square-foot rented facility to the expanded exhibit space the museum purchased, and to which it has added the post-war period, traveling exhibits and classroom space.

“We also have a new addition, the Reflection Room, a place for quiet reflection before returning to busy lives,” said Suarez. The museum’s powerful impact — made by the life-size photographic wallpaper displays and showcases containing artifacts, to lighting effects and a walk through history from the families enjoying their lives before everything changed to the atrocities of the Holocaust — is often an emotional experience for visitors.

The Boxcar Exhibit, parked in front of the museum, is a stark re­minder of the genocide but also a traveling education platform to teach from the past and carry forward the museum’s mission to encourage each person to act against bigotry, hatred and violence.

For museum hours and upcoming calendar of events visit

SOURCE: Spotlight News Magazine

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