The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. The museum fulfills its mission through the exhibition, preservation and interpretation of its collections and through education programs and initiatives that foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide.
Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois
Fighting Hate Since 1981
When neo-Nazis threatened to march in Skokie in the late 1970s, Holocaust survivors around the world were shocked. They realized that despite their desire to leave the past behind, they could no longer remain silent. In the wake of these attempted marches, Chicago-area survivors joined together to form the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois. The group focused on combating hate with education.
Since 1981, the organization has educated school and community groups through its speakers’ bureau and existing museum. About 30,000 students visited the original site in Skokie in 2005. The new facility, located just west of the Edens Expressway, will serve more than 250,000 annual visitors, reaching a significant portion of the nearly 2.5 million Illinois school children.
The organization is also proud of its efforts to secure the passage of the Holocaust Education Mandate. In 1990, Illinois became the first state to require Holocaust Education in public schools. In 2005, the organization was again influential in the expansion of this mandate, creating the Holocaust and Genocide Education Mandate, which requires Illinois schools to teach about all genocides.
Photograph of Fay Waldman (right) and Danny Kaye (center) at the Skokie march protest, Skokie, IL 1977-78. IHMEC Collection; Courtesy of the Waldman family.
Architect Stanley Tigerman created a 65,000 square-foot three-part building, dedicated to Holocaust survivors. Visitors enter the dark side, where dark walls and sharp angles represent "the descent into darkness." The Karkomi Permanent Exhibition begins in the dark side.
The "hinge" of the building is an awe-inspiring Book of Remembrance, and is the memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust. The "cleave" formed by the hinge between dark and light, houses an authentic early 20th century German rail car that serves as the museum’s anchor artifact.
The third part of the building "ascends into the light." The soft rounded edges and rooflines filled with natural light emphasize exhibits that represent the rescue and renewal of survivors of the Holocaust.
Other building highlights include:
- Inspiring Pritzker Hall of Reflection for contemplation and reflection
- 200-seat Goodman Auditorium for multiple uses
- Brill Resource Center, including Miller Interactive Library and Lachman Library Collection
- Classrooms with movable walls to accommodate large and small groups
- Advanced climate control and archiving system for preserving and cataloging artifacts
- Lunchroom space for individuals and groups
- Museum Hall for meetings and programs
- Special exhibition space for temporary and traveling exhibits