Holocaust Memorial Museum

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Since its dedication in 1993, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., has welcomed more than 30 million visitors to its Hall of Witness with its heavy steel trusses coated in custom-gray colors that Tnemec created especially for the structure’s stark aesthetic. “The Holocaust Museum was designed to be a very disquieting environment,” Tnemec coating consultant Todd Guntner observed. “The muted gray colors – USHMM Gray and Cloister Gray – were applied on all interior and exterior exposed metals to continue the solemn mood created by the unpainted brick walls, mauve marble flooring and stark architectural spaces.”

The majority of exposed metal in the museum arrived from the fabricator with a spray-applied prime coat of Series 90-97 Tneme-Zinc, a moisture cured, zinc-rich urethane. Miscellaneous metal that arrived at the construction site without being shop-primed received a coat of Series 135 Chembuild, a polyamidoamine epoxy that is surface tolerant and a perfect foundation for aliphatic-polyurethane finish coats.Holocaust Memorial Museum interior coated exposed steelHolocaust Memorial Museum exterior

An intermediate coat of Series 66 Hi-Build Epoxoline, a polyamide epoxy, or Series 161 Tneme-Fascure, a low-temperature cure polyamide epoxy, was field-applied using brushes and rollers. The finish coat was Series 1075 Endura-Shield II, an aliphatic acrylic polyurethane, which is highly resistant to abrasion, wet conditions and exterior weathering. An estimated 500 gallons of coatings were required to complete the project.

Nearly 11 years after the museum opened, the hollow metal handrails required maintenance due to wear and abrasion from heavy use. “We used Series 135 and Series 1075 to recoat the handrails, using the same custom colors,” Guntner added. “The handrails are the only thing that required recoating. Through our involvement with high-profile projects such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum, architects and owners in the D.C. area are coming to us for coating systems that offer long-lasting performance and aesthetics.”

Located on the National Mall, the museum was authorized by Congress in 1980 to be a permanent living memorial to all victims who perished in the Holocaust. Designed by Holocaust survivor and architect James Ingo Freed of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the museum has received several honors, including the American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 1994. The structure houses permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, a research library and archives, two theaters, an interactive computer learning center, classrooms, a memorial space, and areas for impromptu discussion.

project information

Project Name

Holocaust Memorial Museum

Project Location

Washington, D.C.

Project Completion Date

May 1993


U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council


Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects LLP, New York, New York

Shop Applicator

American Iron Works Corp., White Plains, New York

Field Applicator

Charles Shaid Painting Co., Clarksboro, New Jersey