Afro-American museum reopens Saturday

The unveiling of a mixed media art exhibit will mark Saturday’s reopening of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, which closed its doors in August 2011 because of mold issues.

Guests at the museum’s opening event will get to see “How I Got Over,” an exhibit designed to reflect the African American experience and focus on the themes of celebration, spirituality and protest.

“It details how African Americans have used their work to mobilize their communities,” said Charles A. Wash Jr., the museum’s director.

There is no admission fee for Saturday’s event, which will be held noon to 4 p.m. at the museum, 1350 Brush Row Road, which is adjacent to Central State University.

The event will feature a performance by Central State University’s Choir, appearances by representatives of the Ohio Historical Society and elected officials and light refreshments.

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Saturday’s event will also give guests a first time look at a quilt installation called, “And Still We Rise,” which consists of nearly 100 quilts from the collection of Carolyn Mazloomi, a nationally renowned artist who resides in West Chester Twp.

“The quilt is aesthetically pleasing, but it communicates the strong message that hope can really sustain anyone through difficult times,” said Aleia Brown, the museum’s curator.

It was somewhat difficult for Wash and the rest of the staff to have the museum, which opened in 1988, closed to the public for more than a year. The closing happened after mold was found in the museum’s main exhibition gallery.

Besides cleaning, the museum also had to have mechanical system upgrades, including the replacement of both boilers in the museum and a new control system for the brand new humidifiers. All this cost the museum approximately $600,000, Wash said. The money came from state capital appropriations, insurance proceeds, museum reserves and the OHS’s operating fund.

In September, the Ohio Controlling Board approved $1.5 million in state funds for the museum after receiving a request for the funds by the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission on behalf of the Ohio Historical Society. The money is to be used to help with the design and installation of a permanent exhibit to replace the one that had the mold.

It is unclear what the new main exhibit will be, but Wash is expected to announce Saturday that the museum’s exhibition gallery will be renamed after the NAAMCC’s founding director John Fleming. This area is currently closed and not expected to be open to the public this year.

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