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A Museum to Educate and Enlighten
Recipient of the Global Peace and Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations, the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is a human rights laboratory and educational center dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts and confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today.
The genesis of the MOT-the first of its kind in the world-came from the leadership of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an internationally recognized and acclaimed Jewish human rights organization named in honor of famed Nazi hunter, the late Simon Wiesenthal.
In the late 1980’s, Simon Wiesenthal Center leadership and representatives from the world’s top museums began discussing how to promote tolerance and understanding. Adding to the impetus for such a museum was the troubling discovery that a new generation of young people was beginning to question whether or not the Holocaust ever happened.
The decision was made to create a museum - but not an ordinary museum of artifacts and documents. As Simon Wiesenthal expressed, it must not only remind us of the past, but remind us to act. This Museum should serve to prevent hatred and genocide from occuring to any group now and in the future. The daunting task was to create an experience that would challenge people of all backgrounds to confront their most closely-held assumptions and assume responsibility for change.
In February 1993, the Museum of Tolerance opened to the public. It soon received acclaim from national and international leaders, and was described by newspapers and magazines worldwide as an extraordinary new museum. Within a few short months, it became a “must-see” attraction in Southern California.
Today, the public has come to view the MOT not only as a symbol of society’s quest to live peacefully together, but also as an important resource on how to achieve that goal. Over 250,000 people visit the MOT annually, including 130,000 students, and many major corporations, educators, police agencies, and professionals from throughout the region have experienced the MOT’s specialized programs.