The committee for the Russian-Jewish Museum of Tolerance in Moscow approved a final architectural plan this week that would produce the world's largest Jewish museum.
Baruch Gorin, the spokesman for Moscow's Jewish communities, told Haaretz that the museum would be established in a historic building at the Jewish community center, which the community received from the Moscow municipality about five years ago.
The complex of buildings already contains several Jewish institutions, including a soup kitchen, the Shaarei Tzedek health services, a Chabad school, and two buildings - a yeshiva and a university - in the final stages of construction. The new museum is meant to be the complex's crowning glory.
Gorin said the museum will commemorate Russian-Jewish history and include galleries of Jewish art and Judaica. Another section will commemorate the Holocaust. Plans include the construction of a large library, a center for Judaic studies and conference rooms. Gorin predicts that after the municipality provides technical permits, construction will begin in early 2009 and finish in 2011.
The museum's building was put up in 1927 by Konstantin Melnikov, a key Russian architect in the early 20th century. After serving for years as a bus depot, the building was renovated last year and now serves as a gallery for international modern art.
The Jewish community recently signed an agreement with the Russian Cultural Foundation to renovate and expand the building and turn it into an international Jewish museum. Taking part in funding are the Russian Cultural Foundation, the Moscow Jewish community and Jewish philanthropists headed by businessman Lev Leviev.
The German architectural firm Graft Labs will be in charge of renovation and expansion, and international design company Ralph Appelbaum Associates will head design. The building, which spans 9,000 square meters, will be enlarged by adding underground floors covering 15,000 square meters, making it the largest Jewish museum in the world.
Tal Rabina, a media consult for the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia, said that "we received the space from the Moscow municipality. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov understood the great importance of establishing a Jewish museum in the city and that the purpose of the museum is to teach about the Holocaust and Jewish history with the intention of trying to reduce the incidents of anti-Semitism in Russia through the study of Jewish culture."
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