Removing to rebuild

Last week (August 20) the Melbourne Holocaust Museum completed its complex move out of Selwyn Street as the builders began to rebuild the enhanced new Holocaust museum, education and research facility. Despite the challenges of Covid-19 this significant community project is on track to be completed in 2022.

With the advent of Covid-19 in March, the museum closed its doors and staff were forced to stop packing up.
In June the MHM Board signed the contract with McCorkell Construction and set a date to commence the project in August. Stage 3 restrictions meant a small team had to do all the remaining packing of precious and significant archives, art, testimonies and library, as well as the offices and general files. A dedicated team worked tirelessly and under difficult conditions: Operations Manager Laura Etyngold, Senior Archivist Dr Anna Hirsh, Librarian Julia Reichstein, Audio Visual Producer Robbie Simons, Organisational Support Officer Lana Zuker. Supervised by Museum Director & CEO Jayne Josem.

“It has been an incredible experience to watch the care taken by our staff as well as conservators and specialist removalists, as they packed up our precious art and artefacts. This was meant to be a bustling time with many hands-on deck, but Covid-19 has forced it to be a more solitary task, with great pressure on a few of us. Every day has been surreal, it is unbelievable what we achieved during the pandemic, but the survivors have truly inspired my team,” says Museum Director an CEO, Jayne Josem.

MHM was capably supported by:

  • The Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation which assisted with the relocation of the large and precious Treblinka Model.
  • IAS Logisitics who moved our art and archives, particularly the large David Rankin painting The Drowned and the Saved.
  • J.K.Fasham took care of the Pillars of Witness by Andrew Rogers and the Eternal Flame by Peter Schipperheyn.
  • Adela Shaw stained glass windows have been carefully removed and stored.

MHM truly values the great care all of these external suppliers took in understanding the importance of the materials they were moving.

“It has been bittersweet to not be standing alongside our wonderful survivors and dedicated volunteers, farewelling this building that has served us so well for 36 years. The founding survivors dreamed large, so now we need to rebuild, and that is an incredible testament to their vision and achievements over many years.” Says Josem.

Josem added, “We are grateful to the community and to the government – Federal and State – for their unprecedented support of our efforts. The new building, designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects, focuses on light and life against the shadow of the Holocaust, and will ensure the long-term legacy of Melbourne’s survivor community.”

MHM has set up new premises near Caulfield Station to deliver their education programs. Meanwhile, until the restrictions ease, workshops are being delivered online with survivors zooming in as well. The public can go online and wander around the Virtual Museum.