Legislators seek $25 million for new Holocaust museum in Orlando

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A bipartisan legislative effort coupled with private donations could result in $40 million more for the Holocaust Museum for Hope & Humanity, which is planned to break ground in Orlando this year.

The new Holocaust Museum, to be located north of downtown, is being developed by the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center and would replace its Maitland facility to become the largest museum dedicated to the Holocaust in Florida.

State Sen. Linda Stewart, a Democrat, and Rep. David Smith, a Republican, are teaming up on the effort. Stewart has requested up to $25 million in the Senate, while Smith seeks $5 million in the House. Because the requests would come from the same pool of funds, the maximum amount disbursed would be $25 million for the project.

Meanwhile, Central Florida philanthropist Alan Ginsburg has pledged to match up to $25 million in government funding with private-sector funds. He already has pledged $10 million, meaning Ginsburg would bring an additional $15 million to the table for a total of $40 million in new funding.

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“We are facing unprecedented times. The meteoric rise in antisemitism and other forms of hate shows why this new, state-of-the-art museum in Orlando is needed more than ever,” said Stewart in the museum’s official announcement Monday morning. “I am grateful to Alan for his generosity in suggesting the match and for his lifelong dedication to the Central Florida community.”

The 44,500-square-foot museum is being designed using technology, social media, eyewitness accounts and other methods to bring the history of the Holocaust alive and relate it to current issues of bigotry, bullying and hate.

A major highlight of the museum is artificial intelligence technology that will allow visitors to have face-to-face digital conversations with those who experienced the Holocaust firsthand. Called “Dimensions in Testimony,” that technology will be available through the museum’s partnership with USC Shoah Foundation, which houses 55,000 video interviews on the Holocaust.

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“Now is the time, and this is the place,” said Smith in the announcement. “I am proud to support this unique, much-needed Holocaust museum in one of the world’s top tourism destinations. It is my hope that families from across the country and around the world will include the museum in their plans when visiting Orlando.”

Museum officials hope to break ground later this year with a grand opening scheduled for 2026. The museum already has raised $31 million of its anticipated $106 million budget, including $10 million from Orange County’s tourist-development tax, a 6% levy on hotel and other stays.

“This museum proposal is an example of a true public-private partnership, and I applaud Sen. Stewart and Rep. Smith,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings in the announcement.

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If approved by the Florida Legislature and governor, with the private match, the museum would have the additional $40 million in committed funding by June of this year. The state’s investment would be a one-time grant toward construction costs.

“Our new museum will help the next generation find relevance in Holocaust education so that they can take action against antisemitism,” said Talli Dippold, executive director of the Holocaust Center. “As a descendant of Holocaust survivors, it is extremely meaningful to have these stories preserved and told here in Orlando.”

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