ST. LOUIS — The Jewish Federation of St. Louis plans to spin off the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum, slated to open this fall, as a separate nonprofit organization.
The foundation said Monday that its board of directors decided to begin the process of separating the museum, which currently is a department of the federation, into an independent institution.
“Our strategic plan advises us that, if we are not the best at doing something, we should stand aside and allow for the best institution to take the lead,” Greg Yawitz, board chair of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, said in a press release. “We look forward to seeing the Museum grow and take shape as an independent institution in the coming months and years. The Federation is proud to gift this gem to the region, where it will thrive for generations to come.”
The $21 million new museum, scheduled to open Nov. 2, was announced in January 2020 as a renovation and expansion of the prior St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center. Construction on the new 35,000-square-foot facility began in fall 2020 when it was renamed the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum in honor of the family of Gloria Kaplan Feldman, a local Holocaust survivor with a history of philanthropy in the St. Louis Jewish community.
Federation officials said Monday that, over the next several months, its board will begin drafting bylaws and policies, applying for status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and choosing an initial board for the new museum. Once the museum is separated from the foundation, the organizations will continue to be share services such as facilities management and security, officials said.
Frances Levine, who recently retired from a post as president of the Missouri Historical Society, served on the task force that considered the museum's spinoff.
“I believe that this step is an important part of raising the stature of the Museum,” Levine said in a statement. “The St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum has done meaningful historical and educational work in preserving the memory of Holocaust survivors and in examining the intolerance that can lead to horrific consequences. The expansion of the Museum will permit it to gain new heights at a time when the world has seen a rise in violence against Jewish people and other ethnic groups.”
The new museum, located adjacent to the Jewish Federation of St. Louis at the northwest corner at Schuetz Road and Lindbergh Boulevard in unincorporated St. Louis County, incorporated the existing museum into its design. The new facility quadruples the space of the prior museum and will house its over 12,000-item collection of artifacts in addition to classrooms, a 250-seat multipurpose room and 3,000 square feet for temporary exhibits.
To date, the foundation has raised $24.4 million in the museum capital campaign, a spokeswoman told the Business Journal. The organization had topped its $21 million goal in May 2021.
The new museum's construction is on track for its Nov. 2 opening, with work continuing on flooring and lighting, particularly lighting for exhibits, according to the spokeswoman. Installation of artifacts and exhibits will take place this month and in September, she said.
Read the rest of the story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.