“We look forward to seeing the Museum grow and take shape as an independent institution over the months and years to come,” said Greg Yawitz.
ST. LOUIS — The Jewish Federation of St. Louis plans to establish the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum, slated to open this fall, as a separate nonprofit.
The foundation said on Monday that its board had decided to begin the process of separating the museum, which is currently a department of the federation, into an independent institution.
“Our strategic plan advises us that if we are not the best at doing something, we should stand aside and allow the best institution to take the lead,” Greg Yawitz, chairman of the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, said in a press release. “We look forward to seeing the Museum grow and take shape as an independent institution in the months and years to come. The Federation is proud to donate this gem to the region, where it will thrive for generations to come.
The new $21 million museum, set to open Nov. 2, was announced in January 2020 as a renovation and expansion of the former St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. Construction of the new 35,000 square foot facility began in fall 2020 when it was renamed the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum in honor of the family of Gloria Kaplan Feldman, a local Holocaust survivor with a history of philanthropy in St. Louis Jewish Community.
Federation officials said Monday that over the next few months, its board of directors will begin drafting bylaws and policies, applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, and choose a first board of trustees for the new museum. Once the museum separates from the foundation, the organizations will continue to share services such as facilities management and security, officials said.
Frances Levinwho recently retired from a position as president of the Missouri Historical Society, served on the task force that examined the museum’s fallout.
“I believe this milestone is an important part of raising the stature of the Museum,” Levine said in a statement. “The St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum has done significant historical and educational work preserving the memory of Holocaust survivors and examining the intolerance that can have horrific consequences. The expansion of the Museum will allow it to reach new heights at a time when the world is experiencing an increase in violence against Jews and other ethnic groups.
The new museum, located adjacent to the Jewish Federation of St. Louis at the northwest corner of Schuetz Road and Lindbergh Boulevard in unincorporated St. Louis County, incorporated the existing museum into its design. The new facility quadruples the space of the previous museum and will house its artifact collection of more than 12,000 objects in addition to classrooms, a 250-seat multi-purpose hall and 3,000 square feet for temporary exhibitions.
To date, the foundation has raised $24.4 million through the museum’s fundraising campaign, a spokeswoman told the business diary. The organization had exceeded its goal of $21 million in May 2021.
Construction of the new museum is on track for its opening on Nov. 2, with work continuing on the flooring and lighting, particularly the lighting of exhibits, according to the spokesperson. Installation of artifacts and exhibits will take place this month and in September, she said.
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