Minnesota African American Museum: Why?

Minnesota is one of 11 states without an exclusive repository for the study of African American lives and contributions to the state’s history. While other museums, from time to time, create exhibits that focus on African American lives and communities in the state, MAAM’s sole mission will be to connect a rich past to today, through an authentic, inclusive and diverse lens. Importantly, the MAAM will celebrate African American history to share with all Minnesotans and visitors to the state. Though small in numbers, African Americans were some of the Minnesota’s earliest settlers, making substantive contributions to the state’s development – some that impacted the entire nation. What would the country be like without Fredrick McKinley Jones’ refrigeration innovations?; Roy Wilkin’s civil rights leadership?; Lenna Smith’s founding of a law firm (1921)and the Urban League (1924?); and John Donaldson’s talent, charisma and courage on baseball fields from the 1920s-1940s? A state that knows and honors its entire history is powerful. Sadly, the entire history of Minnesota’s communities of color has mostly been sanitized or marginalized. MAAM’s exhibits will shed new understanding on what is known and shine a spotlight on what is mostly unknown. An accurate and inclusive history provides the foundation for understanding by sharing the lives, events and stories in a way that builds cultural pride and mutual respect; it will Inspire everyone about life's possibilities.

Research shows that students learn best and are more highly motivated when the school curriculum reflects their cultures, experiences, and perspectives. Learning occurs far beyond the classroom,
especially in the Twin Cities which is known for being one of the most racially segregated metropolitan areas in the nation, for having the largest achievement gap between African Americans and white students and for the nation’s widest disparity between black and white employment rates.

As it has with its Trunk-It Tours prior to the official opening of its building, MAAM will share its knowledge with teachers and students in the classroom so that curriculum and teaching practices include African American culture. Engagement between MAAM and schools will help fill a void with high quality African American specific resources for classroom teachers. MAAM’s educational mission directly addresses the issue of inclusiveness. The MAAM will help increase cultural competence among educators, community leaders and school neighbors. Adding the missing dimension from historical accounts is affirming, a subtle and powerful message of inclusion and, by implication, selfworth. Finding and incorporating “absent narratives” is at the heart of MAAM’s work.

A beautiful public space for learning, the MAAM and Cultural Center will motivate learning, help build self-esteem, create new dreams and advance cross-cultural and inter-generational communication and understanding. MAAM’s 8,000 square foot Queen Anne structure is

enlivened by varied surface textures, multiple two-story bays, spindled porches and balconies, and chimney stacks above its multi-gabled roof. Although many similar homes were built in the late nineteenth century, few have survived without significant alterations. The Coe Mansion and Carriage House are significant as an unusually picturesque representative of the Queen Anne style in an urban environment and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The MAAM is restoring and preserving a state treasure. When complete, MAAM will contribute to the economy, first with renovation jobs and later fostering cultural tourism and stabilizing and increasing

property values. Its location, across I-94 from the Minneapolis Convention Center provides easy access for visitors and tour requests are awaiting the completed building. The renovation of the Coe Mansion, underway for almost six months, includes all new mechanical and electrical systems, new accessible restrooms, repair of the existing historic wood windows and highly decorative woodwork, stairways, wall panels and parquet floors. The elegant brick exterior will be cleaned and repointed. MAAM’s administrative offices and space for visiting scholars and students interns will be in the Carriage House. The Coe Mansion will contain MAAM’s Exhibit Center:

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1st Floor – A rotating gallery exhibit space, including hands-on and interactive exhibits. 2nd Floor – Showcase for Minnesota’s NorthStar Pioneers, a permanent exhibit. 3rd Floor -- Home to Children's Village an early learning literacy center for children ages 3-7. Children will go on adventures with African American classics such as Leontyne Prices' the Ethiopian Princess in the opera "Aida" and Eula Mae’s Neighborhood in “Chicken Sunday.” Basement – storage for MAAM archives.

Highlights of Planned Museum Programs:
• Inaugural Exhibit – Spring 2013 Bringing it on Home, Negro Baseball and the Minnesota Twins, will show that the story of Negro baseball is the story of Civil Rights in America. Sponsored by the Minnesota Twins, exhibit materials were purchased from the Negro Baseball Hall of Fame. And MAAM is working with Children's Theatre Company (CTC) on a mini baseball exhibit during its performances of “Jackie and Me.” Painting a thorough portrait of a game that is intertwined with our nation's history and culture, students will get an up-close view of treasured memorabilia and will be able to trace the history of baseball, and the Civil Rights Movement. Students will understand the math behind the stats and the science (physics) involved in the game. All will learn of the personal character required to become a leader both on and off the playing field. Children's village-- 3rd floor exhibit offers a rich early literacy learning environment for children, parents, and teachers and at the same time extends its distinct practices to professionals in schools and museums through an educational outreach program

MAAM Goals
Engage the community in meaningful volunteer and leadership Roles • To help history come to life, recruit, train and deploy 18 high school students and 18 senior citizens to serve as docents to leading exhibit tours and interact with visitors. Recruit, train and support a Youth Advisory Board of 6-12 th grade students to operate in parallel with the Museum’s Board of Directors, commenting on exhibits and outreach strategies.

Become a trusted resource for classroom teachers

Create and distribute electronic curriculum materials for K-12 students, across disciplines, integrating African American achievements, traditions and cultural references, many aligned with MAAM’s exhibits. Set up MAAM Teaching Fellows program, recruiting classroom teachers to spend one year at MAAM. Create an accredited Summer Institute program for educators and classroom teachers. MAAM’s Summer Institute will offer distinct programs that enhance Minnesota's historic and cultural landscape to teachers. Encourage collaboration among the 646 museums within the State of Minnesota.

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