A panel of frosted glass at the Holocaust Museum in Montreal shows a list of place names where Jews lived before many were taken and killed during the Second World War.
Eva Kuper was among those who survived the Holocaust.
“I want people to understand what the power of hate is and how each of us is capable of unbelievable evil,” she told Global News, shortly before a museum staff member broke down in tears upon hearing her story.
The power of Holocaust stories is why Kuper supports the construction of a new Holocaust museum in order to reach more people. Construction has begun on Saint-Laurent Boulevard just north of Sherbrooke Street. The new building will replace the current museum on Côte-Sainte-Catherine Road and be larger – 55,000 square feet over three floors, plus a basement.
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“It will have incredible educational offerings,” explained Gillian Sonin, marketing and PR coordinator for the museum. “There will be a permanent exhibit, there will be traveling exhibits, there will be classrooms.”
The new location is key, she said, being more central will make it easier for people to discover it. She pointed out that Saint-Laurent Boulevard is also of historical significance.
“Not only for the Jewish community but many immigrant communities who came to Montreal.”
According to Parks Canada, several groups of newcomers have settled in the area since the 1800s. The aim for museum officials is to address hate in all its forms.
“What starts with antisemitism, what starts with Jews, never ends with Jews,” Sonin stresses, “and so what we’re doing is really trying to educated the public about hatred, about intolerance, about human rights.”
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As such, she adds, the new location will include information and education about genocides beyond the holocaust.
Kuper believes perhaps more than ever people need to be made aware of the consequences of hate.
“We can see by what’s happening in the world today with the rise in antisemitism and hatred, Islamophobia,” she noted.
Visitors to the current space like Gabriel Blain support the plan for a new and bigger space.
“I think it’s going to bring a lot because there are lot a lot of little pieces that’s here, and and I think there’s a lot more that they could add (at the new location),” he pointed out.
In the end, Blain believes, institutions like the museum matter because it’s an opportunity to learn about each other.
Construction of the new building is scheduled to wrap up in 2025 with an official opening in 2026.