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How a Hagy Belzberg expansion will change the Holocaust Museum LA’s Mid-City profile


When the Holocaust Museum LA (then known as the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust) settled into its permanent home at Pan Pacific Park in 2010, the ultimate goal was to draw an estimated 15,000 visitors every year. It not only met that goal the first year out, it exceeded it. By the time the COVID-19 pandemic rolled around, the museum was drawing upward of 65,000 people every year, far beyond its original plans.

Now the goal is to attract even more visitors: 500,000 per year by 2030. “We’re giving ourselves plenty of time,” says museum Chief Executive Beth Kean. “We are hoping to get to 150,000 over the next few years. ... We have a trajectory plan to take us there.”

To that end, the museum is planning an expansion that will nearly double its footprint from 28,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet. The addition will include a new 2,500-square-foot gallery for temporary exhibitions, a 200-seat theater for film screenings and panel discussions, as well as two classrooms. The addition will be designed by Hagy Belzberg, principal of the L.A.-based firm Belzberg Architects, who designed the museum’s current home.

“We are not a giant museum,” says Belzberg, who is also a member of the museum’s board. “If you want to look at something when there is a busload of kids there, it’s hard to have an intimate relationship with the object.”

The extension will help alleviate crowding. It also will add a new, more prominent building to a museum that currently maintains a very quiet presence on the Los Angeles landscape.

The current building, which lies partially underground and features a sloping green roof, looks like an extension of the undulating parkland that surrounds it. The new plan will alter that profile by adding a rooftop pavilion that will house a railroad boxcar found near the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland.

Visible from the street and Pan Pacific Park, it will make the museum, with plans to illuminate the new pavilion at night, much more prominent.

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