Ahead of our online program Battery Park City & A Changing New York, we revisit some key early moments in the Museum’s history in its home neighborhood of Battery Park City.

In 1981, New York City mayor Edward I. Koch appointed a Task Force on the Holocaust with George Klein as Chairman. The Task Force prepared a report recommending building a museum and memorial in New York City. A year later, the New York City Holocaust Memorial Commission was established.

It would be another three years – 1985 – before the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) proposed that the Museum be built at the southern tip of Battery Park City, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Museum location
Note the arrow pointing out the Museum’s site location

In 1986, a lease signing and dedication ceremony for the Museum was held in Battery Park City. At this time, the Museum’s mission statement was adopted.

Lease signing
From left to right: Rabbi David Blumenfeld (standing), Howard J. Rubenstein, Manfred Ohrenstein, Robert M. Morgenthau, George Klein, NYC Mayor Ed Koch, NY Governor Mario Cuomo

Groundbreaking of the Museum building designed by Kevin Roche took place on October 16, 1994.

Groundbreaking for Museum Construction

On September 11, 1997, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust was dedicated by dignitaries and Holocaust survivors including Elie Wiesel. The Museum opened to the public on September 15, 1997.

Opening Day at the Museum

A ceremonial groundbreaking of the East Wing (later named the Robert M. Morgenthau Wing), a major Museum expansion, occurred in 2000.

A ceremonial groundbreaking of the East Wing (later named the Robert M. Morgenthau Wing), a major Museum expansion, occurred in 2000.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Museum family mourned along with the rest of New York City and the Museum closed its doors for three weeks. Construction of the East Wing resumed on November 27 and was the first construction to begin south of Ground Zero after 9/11.

Robert M. Morgenthau Wing opened in 2003
Robert M. Morgenthau Wing. Photo: David Paler

The Robert M. Morgenthau Wing opened in 2003. It is an 82,000-square-foot addition and includes Garden of Stones by internationally acclaimed artist Andy Goldsworthy.