The Holocaust Memorial Museum is a short walk from the Smithsonian Metro stop. I tried to book tickets to this museum three months in advance and was not able to get tickets online. On the first morning I was in Washington DC I stood in line to get a timed ticket. It was worth the 2-hour wait. A visit to the Holocaust museum is profoundly somber. It makes you think about your own personal prejudices.
Despite the heaviness of the subject, put this museum on your list. It is a sobering reminder of what fear, hate and power can do. It is also a reminder of human strength, compassion and resilience.
Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Holocaust Museum is a living memorial to the Holocaust.The most popular exhibit is the Permanent Exhibit: The Holocaust. This is where you will need your timed ticket to enter. You are given an identification card of a person who lived during the time of the Holocaust upon entering the exhibit. You can choose from male or female. The identification card has a photo of the person, their story and at the end it says whether or not your person survived the Holocaust.
The permanent exhibit is three floors of history. Photos taken by US Army Soldiers in 1945 are the first images visitors see on the tour. The self-guided tour begins in then chronological order starting in 1933 through 1945.
I was given an identification card of a person who lived in the ghettos. The museum had part of the actual Warsaw Ghetto wall.
One of the most heart-breaking exhibits for many people is the display of hundreds of shoes confiscated from prisoners at the Majdanek Death Camp. Prisoners were ordered to take off their shoes before entering the gas chambers. This is a tough space to view. Every shoe in this display belonged to someone who didn’t make it out alive.
The hallway of portraits and photos was also haunting.
The museum is FREE to visit. However, if you do not have a timed ticket you cannot enter the main exhibit. You can visit the website to reserve a timed ticket. Without an online timed ticket visitors should expect to wait in a long line.
The museum opens at 10:00 am. The line for the Holocaust Museum starts forming at 8:00 am. Timed tickets are handed out one hour before the museum opens. Stand in the tree lined alley near the museum. There are benches to sit while you wait.
The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5:30 pm