Holocaust evidence preserved in newly dedicated Bowie facility

BOWIE, Md. — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has cut the ribbon on a state-of-the-art conservation and research center where evidence of the Holocaust is being preserved.

“With the rise of anti-Semitism and various forms of Holocaust denial, the role of the evidence is taking on even greater significance and urgency,” said Tom Berstein, chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Survivors of the Holocaust gathered with family members to dedicate the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center. The highly secured, 80,000 square-foot facility of laboratories and climate-controlled rooms sits at the end of a winding road, behind a black iron fence and vehicle barriers.

“You are the steward of those lost lives. You honor their last remaining trace. This makes your work here noble, solemn and sacred,” said Irvin Shapell of the Shapell Family Foundation, directing his remarks to conservators, archivists, curators and others who staff the facility.

Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of a new Holocaust preservation facility in Bowie, Maryland. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
The Shappell family cuts the ribbon Thursday, dedicating a new Holocaust preservation facility in Bowie, Maryland. (WTOP/Dick Uliano) (WTOP/Dick Uliano )
Travis Roxlau
A Small chair donated by Holocaust survivor Louise Lawrence-Israels is presented by Travis Roxlau, director Collections Services, Monday, April 24, 2017, at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s, David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. Louise Lawrence-Israels and her family went into hiding in 1942 on the top floor of an apartment in Amsterdam. She donated this small chair she played with from that time. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Louisa Lawrence-Israels’ wicker doll chair is in the collection. Lawrence-Israels hid with her Jewish family in an attic during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, just five blocks from where Anne Frank was hiding. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Laura Seylar
Laura Seylar, registrar of Collections Management, slides open a section of the art rack at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The art racks holds painting and other hanging art made during the period or the Holocaust and works showing memories of the Holocaust made by survivors.The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Fela Shapell, Irvin Shapell, Rochelle Shapell
Fela Shapell, left, with her daughter Rochelle Shapell, center, wipes her eyes during a dedication ceremony at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A sewing machine used during the time of the Holocaust is seen in the Personal Artifacts Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A sewing machine used during the time of the Holocaust is seen in the Personal Artifacts Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Boxes fill the shelves in the Documents Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Boxes fill the shelves in the Documents Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Cynthia Huges
Cynthia Huges, Textiles Conservator, Conservations Services, points out a hidden interior pocket on a piece of clothing worn in a work camp by an uncle and nephew who where saved by being on Schindler’s List at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A interior secret pocket of a piece of clothing worn in a work camp by an uncle and nephew who where saved by being on Schindler's List, is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A interior secret pocket of a piece of clothing worn in a work camp by an uncle and nephew who where saved by being on Schindler’s List, is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Jane Klinger
Jane Klinger, chief conservator, Conservation Services, opens a case in the Personal Artifacts Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The Large Artifacts Vault is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The Large Artifacts Vault is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The diary of Tamara Lazerson, written during the Holocaust, is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The diary of Tamara Lazerson, written during the Holocaust, is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Boxes fill the shelves in the Documents Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Boxes fill the shelves in the Documents Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Clothing worn in a work camp by an uncle and nephew who where saved by being on Schindler's List is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Clothing worn in a work camp by an uncle and nephew who where saved by being on Schindler’s List is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Laura Seylar
Laura Seylar, registrar of Collections Management, slides open a section of the art rack at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The art racks holds painting and other hanging art made during the period or the Holocaust and works showing memories of the Holocaust made by survivors.The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Fela Shapell, Irvin Shapell
Fela Shapell, fourth from left, her son Irvin Shapell, third from left, and other family members participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A coat hanger belonging to Fritz Steckelmacher from the time of the Holocaust is seen on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A coat hanger belonging to Fritz Steckelmacher from the time of the Holocaust is seen on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Fela Shapell, Irvin Shapell, Rochelle Shapell
Fela Shapell, second from left, is flanked by her children Irvin Shapell, left, and Rochelle Shapell, right, as they stand for a moment of silence during a dedication ceremony at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Travis Roxlau
A Small chair donated by Holocaust survivor Louise Lawrence-Israels is presented by Travis Roxlau, director Collections Services, Monday, April 24, 2017, at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s, David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. Louise Lawrence-Israels and her family went into hiding in 1942 on the top floor of an apartment in Amsterdam. She donated this small chair she played with from that time.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A picture of the Holocaust survivors in attendance for Thursday’s ribbon cutting. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Holocaust survivors placed notes in a time capsule to be opened in 2043 — the Holocaust Museum’s 50th anniversary. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
A picture of the large turnout for Thursday’s ribbon-cutting dedicating  the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center as a site for Holocaust evidence preservation. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
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Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of a new Holocaust preservation facility in Bowie, Maryland. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Travis Roxlau
Laura Seylar
Fela Shapell, Irvin Shapell, Rochelle Shapell
A sewing machine used during the time of the Holocaust is seen in the Personal Artifacts Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Boxes fill the shelves in the Documents Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Cynthia Huges
A interior secret pocket of a piece of clothing worn in a work camp by an uncle and nephew who where saved by being on Schindler's List, is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Jane Klinger
The Large Artifacts Vault is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The diary of Tamara Lazerson, written during the Holocaust, is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Boxes fill the shelves in the Documents Vault at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Clothing worn in a work camp by an uncle and nephew who where saved by being on Schindler's List is seen at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Laura Seylar
Fela Shapell, Irvin Shapell
A coat hanger belonging to Fritz Steckelmacher from the time of the Holocaust is seen on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Md., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Shapell Center is a new state-of-the-art facility that will house the collection of record of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Fela Shapell, Irvin Shapell, Rochelle Shapell
Travis Roxlau

The facility collects and preserves historical artifacts, documents, photographs, film and other objects related to the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jewish people were singled out for extermination.

Among its holdings is a little chair.

“It’s a tiny, little wicker chair, and it was 150 years old when it was given to me (in 1942), and it’s a doll’s chair and it was for my second birthday,” said Louisa Lawrence-Israels, 76, of Bethesda, who hid with her Jewish family in an attic during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, just five blocks from where Anne Frank was hiding.

“Once we’re not here anymore, the museum and this center will speak for us,” Lawrence-Israels said.

Holocaust survivors also put notes in a time capsule to be opened in 2043 — the Holocaust Museum’s 50th anniversary.


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