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< The Museum's Collections

The Shapell Center

Building and Preserving the Collection of Record

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The Museum’s Collections are permanently housed at the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center. This state-of-the-art facility features highly specialized laboratories and climate-controlled environments where a wide variety of media are treated and preserved. The Shapell Center serves as a hub of activity supporting acquisitions, education, and scholarship to ensure that future generations will continue to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and learn from their history to build a better future.

Research at the Shapell Center

In 2020, the Museum is planning to open a new reading room at the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center in Bowie, Maryland. The Shapell Center Reading Room will offer researchers enhanced access to the Museum’s archival and special collections. The Museum’s fifth floor Reading Room will continue to offer reference services and provide access to Library print collections.

This model of service across two facilities will provide new opportunities for researchers:

  • In general, same-day access to manuscript archival collections at the Shapell Center
  • State-of-the-art facilities at the Shapell Center to accommodate material culture research with artifacts (by appointment)
  • Reference services and reference collections in both reading rooms
  • Access to the Library’s print collection in both reading rooms
  • Collections curators at both facilities
  • Photo Archives reference services at both facilities
  • Access to digital collections in both reading rooms
  • A new Collections Request system to streamline patron requests for access to resources

In support of research activities at the Shapell Center, the following amenities will be provided:

  • Shuttle service to the Shapell Center
  • Ample parking
  • Lockers for storage of personal belongings
  • Lunch room facilities with refrigerator, microwave, and vending machines

During the transition to this new model, some collections materials may be inaccessible. We will provide updates on the reading room opening, collections availability, and researcher services here and on our Collections Search database. Please check back for more information.

If you have questions about conducting research at the Shapell Center or how to access certain materials, please contact our Reference Desk or email reference@ushmm.org.

About Our Work

Preserving a collection as vast and varied as ours poses a unique set of challenges. Foremost among them is that many of the items were never meant to last and are at great risk of deterioration. World-class conservators, with specialties in paper, photographs, textile, and object preservation, work to stabilize and extend the life of all objects in the collection while retaining their historical provenance so they reveal an authentic representation of what transpired during the Holocaust. The Museum is recognized as a world leader in the preservation of perishable artifacts and is a model for other institutions dealing with objects of trauma.