Object Alone

Obj. ID: 53335  Butterfly Sculpture in the Holocaust Museum in Houston, TX, USA, 2019

© Samuel Gruber, Photographer: Gruber, Samuel D., 2023

Name of Monument

The Jerold B. Katz Family Butterfly Loft Sculpture

Who/What is Commemorated?

1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Holocaust

Description 

A hanging sculpture fills a three-story atrium space in the center of the museum. The three-story Jerold B. Katz Family Butterfly Loft, is an installation of 1,500 translucent, multicolored tinted butterflies, symbolizing the 1.5 million children that perished in the Holocaust. The butterflies – hung from thin wires – appear alive as they flutter in the air currents of the museum. 

The sculpture creates a colorful kaleidoscope of 1,500 butterflies that connect in air all three floors of the Museum. Views of the swarming butterflies as one heads up to different floors. From the upper floors, it can feel as if one is among the butterflies. Each butterfly represents 1,000 children and together are a memorial to the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

On the second level is an opaque glass triangular section of floor pavement next to the open space in which the sculpture hangs. The triangle is composed of three glass panels – two triangular and a diamond shape panel with the inscription in large letters: Zachor, [Remember], זכור. These panels act as skylights for the area below.

Inscriptions

in Hebrew and Hebrew transliterated with Latin letters: 

Zachor
[Remember]
זכור

Commissioned by

Holocaust Museum Houston

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Architectural Drawings
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42 image(s)

Name / Title
Butterfly Sculpture in the Holocaust Museum in Houston, TX, USA | Unknown
Monument Setting
Museum
{"13":"A Holocaust memorial permanently installed within a history, art, or Holocaust Remembrance Museum (n.b. this does not include buildings themselves dedicated as Holocaust memorials)."}
Object Detail
Completion Date
2019
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Location
United States of America (USA) | Texas | Houston, TX
| Holocaust Museum Houston 5401 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Unknown|
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Iconographical Subject
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Material / Technique
Synthetics (plastics) [to be determined]
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Material Cloth
Material Lining
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0
Custom
Contents
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Ruling
Pricking
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Direction/Location
Façade (main)
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Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
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Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
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Summary and Remarks
History

In 1942, a young Czech named Pavel Friedmann wrote a poem titled “The Butterfly.” Friedmann wrote the poem while in the Terezin Concentration Camp before he died in Auschwitz in 1944. “The Butterfly” voiced the spirit of the 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust. In the decades after the death of Friedman and the discovery of the poem, it has been widely adopted as a foundational text of Holocaust literature and is often quoted for its universalist sentiment.

Soon after its founding, the Holocaust Museum Houston (then named the Holocaust Museum of Houston) began its “Butterfly” project to commemorate the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. The goal was to have people around the world – especially children – create out of various materials 1.5 million butterflies. The museum organized a traveling exhibition of the butterflies, but most are kept in storage. When the museum was rebuilt and expanded after 2016 the architects designed a permanent reminder of the project and a memorial to the murdered children. This was unveiled in 2019, and it hangs in the center of the museum and can be seen from three different levels.

According to architect Mark Mucasey, “We created in that Butterfly Loft a way for children and other visitors to wrap their heads around the number 1.5. “One point five” is 1.5 million children that were killed in the Holocaust… We are suspending a sculptural flock of butterflies from the top of that atrium that will spill down in a swarm. And there are 1500 of those butterflies that will be turning and twisting in the air conditioning that goes through the building. And the idea is that someone can look up and see that each one of those 1500 butterflies represents a thousand children that were killed. And the sheer magnitude of that number is something that I wanted to convey to a visitor when they came into the building [302 - Architecture Tour].

Main Surveys & Excavations
Sources

"302 - Architecture Tour - The Jerold B. Katz Family Butterfly Loft," Map My Visit, https://www.mapmyvisit.com/object/viewobject/57928/en/6B02622E158CD12C815981A673779617 (accessed March 5, 2024)

Aaron, Arielle A. In The Presence of Butterflies: The Story of the Original Butterfly Project. (‎AuthorHouse Publishing, 2011)
Type
The following information on this monument will be completed: