More than 250 guests and 20 Holocaust survivors said goodbye to Houston's Holocaust Museum on Sunday as they plan to close temporarily during a major expansion project.
Museum staff, founders, and those Holocaust survivors had a candlelight ceremony called "Lights of Hope for the Future".
The museum will be closing Monday and moving its exhibits to a temporary building.
The museum saw a big turnout for closing weekend, which was free.
They'll be bulldozing about two-thirds of the current building and doubling its size, making it the fourth-largest Holocaust Museum in the country.
The new three-story building will double the size of the main exhibition, and they'll be bringing artifacts like a Danish rescue boat and rail car. They'll also be adding classrooms, library space and administrative offices.
"I think it's fantastic! After 21 years, it's about time we had a larger building," said Bill Orlin, Holocaust survivor. "We're the number one museum in Texas, and now hopefully we'll be number three in the United States after this new building is up."’
The museum's CEO predicts the expanded exhibits with bilingual signage will bump up student field trip attendance by 50 percent just the first year and overall attendance by 35 percent.
That temporary museum will open to visitors on September 5.
Construction on the permanent new museum should start in October and wrap up in early 2019.