Baltimore's long-awaited Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, initially scheduled to debut last fall, is scheduled to open to the public June 25, museum executives said yesterday.
The 82,000-square-foot, $34 million museum will open with a weekend of
festivities, including a June 24 concert featuring Johnny Mathis, a
ribbon-cutting and a host of family-oriented events. While many details remain
undecided, some suggestions include wrapping the building in ribbon or holding
a parade that would include representatives from Baltimore and Maryland's 23
The museum, which will focus on the lives, culture and history of
African-Americans in Maryland, will create exhibitions that dovetail with a
curriculum designed by the State Board of Education for use in kindergarten
through 12th grade. Its collections are based in part upon oral histories,
research and artifacts from throughout the state.
The museum is named for Reginald F. Lewis, the late Baltimore-born
businessman and philanthropist whose foundation donated $5 million to the
project. It will be the second largest facility in the country dedicated to
the study and preservation of African-American history and culture. Only
Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, at 120,000
square feet, is larger.
Museum officials initially had projected a fall 2004 opening, but pushed
back the date to give installers more time to set up the exhibits. "It was
worth every minute of the time we took to wait," says Draper. "This is a
legacy that will last for generations to come."
The June opening will be the culmination of a decade of planning by former
Circuit Court judge and Baltimore mayoral candidate George L. Russell Jr.,
chairman of the museum's board. "It's the beginning, just the beginning,"
Russell says. "It's going to be a job that will continue, but we still have a
lot of hard work to do."
Staff moved into the five-story museum, at Pratt and President streets,
The state, which contributed $30 million toward construction, will fund 75
percent of the museum's operating costs during the first year.
"You can come to this museum and see art and learn about industry and peek
into culture. And in the process, this is an opportunity for you to see
everything about what's going on, from Western Maryland to Southern Maryland,"
says Draper. "The museum is located in Baltimore, but it's certainly about
more than Baltimore."
Much of the museum's focus will be on educating schoolchildren about the
African-American experience. The state Board of Education has adopted a
curriculum geared toward educational opportunities offered by the museum. A
pilot program involving 118 teachers was begun last fall. In September, all
public, as well as many private, schools will begin offering the curriculum in
grades K-12, in history, art, music, literature, geography and economics.
Call the museum at 443-263-1800 or visit its Web site at
Lewis Museum will open June 25
Exhibits will match a new curriculum in public schools
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