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Fort Wayne’s African/African-American History Museum is located at 436 E. Douglas St.

Museum revived – and it’s set to thrive

Have you heard about the African/African-American Historical Museum? I heard it was being turned into a multicultural center. I heard that the entire collection was being auctioned. And I heard that it was being moved to another state. As vice president of the board of the African/African-American Historical Society, I was surprised, since none of these are true.

The African/African-American Historical Museum has not closed during the transition of paid staff. We now have fewer staff members and request that tours be scheduled in advance for groups of any size. (Call 420-0765 at least 48 hours in advance, to schedule your tour.)

The board and executive director have worked with the fire marshal to make significant upgrades for the increased safety of visitors and the structure, and visitors will have a much safer experience. A new collections policy will further preserve the existing collection.

Accessibility has been improved by moving non-exhibit office equipment to the second floor and bringing additional exhibits to the first floor.

Our newsletter – the Griot – will be published quarterly and will be available in electronic form. The first new issue will arrive in members’ mailboxes during May. A new and updated website is also scheduled to go “live” in late May/early June, at www.AAAHMuseum.org.

The annual meeting will be June 29. Each member of the African/African-American Historical Society has a vote at the meeting. All members are eligible for the board of directors, and several seats are being vacated. Contact the museum for more information and to receive a application.

The board of directors is working with the executive director to document and digitize the collection, and this ongoing project will need volunteers. Call if you can lend a hand.

The executive director is planning several new education programs for all ages. This will enhance the already strong primary school programming developed by the former curator, Hana Stith. The museum will offer several special exhibitions each year on a variety of topics.

An annual scholarship essay contest in honor of Stith and Marsha Smiley will be offered beginning with the 2013-14 school year. Please contact the museum if you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund.

Don’t just take my word about it; please plan to stop by for a visit. Fort Wayne is extraordinarily lucky to have a regionally significant collection of African-American and African cultural and historical artifacts: a history that helps to better tell the story of all of us. Please stop by and experience for yourself the legacy that has been passed to us by its founders and charter members who have shared parts of their story.

Angela M. Quinn is vice president of the of the board of directors for the African/African-American Historical Society. She wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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