When the idea of a memorial to Holocaust victims and survivors was first proposed in 1984, one of the arguments against it was that Miami Beach was a place for “sun and fun” and that such a place would be too dreary for vacationing tourists.
Yet today, visitors record such comments as: “beautiful and somber,” “respectful and informative,” “beautifully designed,” “a masterpiece of art,” “a quiet place to reflect and meditate.” The renowned travel site Expedia calls it “simple and moving.” Frommer’s describes it as “powerful.”
Far from repelling people, the Memorial at 1933 Meridian Avenue has become a nationally known draw for visitors to the Miami Beach area. Of course, given the grim and even horrific subject matter of the memorial, one wouldn’t expect anything approaching a lighthearted romp, and the site is true to its message: memorial.
The idea was launched by a small group of Holocaust survivors and resulted in a dedication ceremony in 1990, attended by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel as guest speaker. At the time, there were between 20,000-25,000 Holocaust survivors in the Greater Miami area, the largest assemblage of survivors in the nation.
The outdoor memorial, spanning 1933 to 1945 Meridian—coincidentally the exact years that Jews were persecuted by the Nazis—comprises a black granite Memorial Wall, listing the various concentration camps and the names of thousands of those who died there, a captioned photo display of victims, still reflection pools, and lush green spaces.
In addition to the many numerous sculptures that line the Memorial, its signature piece is the one conceived by architect Kenneth Treister, the Memorial’s designer. The bronze sculpture is a 42-foot-tall outstretched arm, with nearly a hundred life-sized figures representing the victims clinging to it.
Located a short drive from the luxury loft-style condominiums at 88 Hundred Collins, the Memorial’s tour is largely self-guided, although guides are available for tour groups and classes of 10 or more, which require reservations. Admission is free 365 days a year, though a $2 donation is suggested for the guide brochure. The Memorial is fully accessible, and wheelchairs are available with advance notice. Also available with notice is an American sign language interpreter. The Museum allows service animals but no pets, and asks that visitors maintain the appropriate decorum in dress and manner while on the grounds. On-street metered parking is available, or you can park free if you’re willing to walk a bit.