The permanent and traveling exhibits of Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) provide a thorough introduction to the history and tragedy of the Holocaust, thereby meeting the mission of the museum in a painstaking and meticulous manner. The mission statement itself is clear as well as succinct. It does not give any unnecessary information, but it gives all the information that is needed (e.g. who the audience is — “people” — and who the museum honors –“innocent victims and survivors” etc.). The statement is also comprehensive because it completely outlines the focus of the museum: “… the Holocaust… the dangers of hatred, prejudice, and apathy.”
The mission statement addresses the relationship between the museum and the audience implicitly, though not directly. Since it indicates that it provides a variety of educational programs, one can infer that some programs are more suitable for children and others for adults. Thus, the mission statement provides — again, by implication — for meeting the needs of the entire audience.
The primary permanent exhibit, “Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers,” provides a detailed account of Jewish life in Europe before WWII, Nazi atrocities and the “Final Solution,” and the recovery of survivors after the war. Other permanent exhibits include a Holocaust railcar, in which Jews rode to their deaths in concentration camps; a memorial to destroyed Jewish communities; and a rare Danish rescue boat from 1943 when more than 7,000 Jews were rescued by Danish Christians.
An example of a traveling exhibit is the currently available gallery of survivor portraits. These are especially valuable as part of the “digital trunks” that can be rented to educators. The trunks for this exhibit contain iPads with all the portraits in the museum plus others that are not available at the museum. There are other trunks available as well that cover different parts of the Holocaust story, presenting a framework for educators to use in communicating the lessons learned from these events to their students.