United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Washington, D.C.

The permanent exhibition explores modern genocide, its methods, and its effects. The visitor experience was conceived as a controlled emotional encounter, theatrically organized into three “acts” on three floors: Nazi Assault, 1933–1939; The Final Solution, 1940–1945; and Last Chapter. Large-scale objects and architectural structures provide context and convey the magnitude of the Holocaust. These evidentiary items, brought from Poland and Germany, include a section of the barracks from Auschwitz, railroad tracks from Treblinka, a Danish rescue boat, and a railcar used to transport victims to concentration camps.

RAA worked with an international team of historians, researchers, documentary filmmakers, and museum specialists. Content and exhibition designs were reviewed by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, established by Congress, which comprises fifty-five private citizens appointed by the U.S. President, five members of the Senate, five members of the House of Representatives, and three ex-officio members from the Departments of State, Education, and Interior.

Opened in 1993, the museum has welcomed more than thirty million visitors. Two decades later, it is still drawing millions of visitors every year, demonstrating the importance of tolerance and cultivating in the public a sense of moral responsibility.

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

James Ingo Freed, of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners


36,000 square feet

  • Society of Environmental Graphic Design Exhibition, Select Award Winners of the Last Decade

  • American Alliance of MuseumsAAM Exhibition Awards: Permanent Exhibition, Top Honors

  • Presidential Award for Design Excellence

  • Graphic Design USA, American Graphic Design Award, Permanent Exhibition

  • National Endowment for the Arts, Federal Design Achievement Award, Permanent Exhibition

  • Society for Environmental Graphic Design, Honor Award, Leisure Environments, Permanent Exhibition

  • Print Magazine Print Casebooks 10, Certifitcate of Design Excellence

  • Industrial Designers Society of America, International Design Excellence Award: Museum Exhibits and Set Design, Permanent Exhibition, Gold Industrial Design Experience

  • Communication Arts, Award of Excellence for Environmental Graphics

  • Interiors Magazine Interiors Awards, Best in Institutional Design

© 2014, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.