After more than six years of planning, fundraising and construction, Dallas' new Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is ready to open.
The striking copper-clad building sits in the city's Historic West End, just one block from the Sixth Floor Museum and Dealey Plaza.
The museum continues a mission started several decades ago by Dallas-area Holocaust survivors to document the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and to honor the lives of the six million Jews who were killed in World War II. The opening of the new building also brings an expanded focus on human rights.
"We use that paradigm to explore other genocides and explore civil and human rights here at home," said museum director, Mary Pat Higgins.
Among the museum's many chilling Holocaust exhibits is a restored railroad car that carried Jews to the concentration camps. Dallas Holocaust survivor, 91-year-old Max Glauben, described his family's own experience.
"We rode on a boxcar for five days," he said. "More than half of the people never survived the ride."
The human rights section of the museum reminds visitors of genocides in places like Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia. There is also a recreation of the Piccadilly Cafeteria in Dallas, where black protesters demanded service in 1964.
"We want you to also focus on the people who stood up, sometimes against insurmountable odds to save others. And we hope that will be the takeaway," said Higgins.
Those people, known as 'upstanders,' play a prominent role in the story the museum tells.
Museum organizers hope to have an impact on young people, especially from 6th through 12th grade.
"We can still impact their behavior. They can be a part of a powerful change in our community," said Higgins.
Half of the museum's predicted 200,000 annual visitors are expected to be students.
Glauben said the completion of the museum fulfills his mission in life. He likens a walk through the museum to what he calls a human car wash.
"When you come out on the other end, you should lose all your hate and all the badness you had inside of you and come out a beautiful person that we call an upstander."
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum opens on Wednesday, Sept. 18. For more information, click here.