Twenty years after its inception and six months past its initial launch date, the International African American Museum (IAAM) will at last open this June in Charleston, S.C. According to a press release, the museum will officially open its doors to the public on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
“We’re excited to open IAAM’s doors and showcase the incredible breadth of African American history,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the International African American Museum, in a statement provided to theGrio. “IAAM strives not only to provide a space for all visitors to celebrate and connect to this history, to these stories, and to this art, but also to find meaning within their own stories. The African American journey is far longer than the 20 years it took to build this museum, and we are humbly proud to step up and play our part in this story. It is time.”
As previously reported by theGrio, the IAAM’s initial launch date, January 21, was delayed due to concerns about humidity and temperature levels within the newly constructed building, which have since been stabilized by the City of Charleston.
While the IAAM won’t officially open until June, the museum has already been engaging with the public; most recently, this February, via virtual and in-person programming in honor of Black History Month. Several in-person programs for the surrounding community are planned in the weeks leading up to the IAAM’s opening date, chosen to coincide with this year’s celebration of Juneteenth. As a continuation of local festivities in the city of Charleston, the launch of the museum will be preceded by a series of “community events” and an opening ceremony on June 24.
“As this magnificent new museum demonstrates, Charleston isn’t just a city where history happened – it’s a city where history is still being made every day,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg in a statement. “I couldn’t be prouder of this extraordinary achievement, and of all the people who’ve worked so hard over the past two decades to make it a reality.”
Positioned on Charleston’s historic Gadsden’s Wharf, “one of the nation’s most prolific former slave trading ports,” the building “includes nine core exhibition galleries and a special exhibition gallery, as well as a ‘floating’ gallery that weaves contemporary art throughout the museum.” According to the release, at the time of its opening, the IAAM will house over 700 artifacts “dating from 17th century to contemporary objects, alongside 1000 image and media collection pieces.” It will also be home to the Center for Family History, “a world-class genealogy and ancestry resource center” which has hosted genealogy classes and workshops since 2020, connecting African Americans to both their legacy in the United States and the African diaspora.
“Through programming and unique, authentic, empathetic storytelling, the IAAM activates its mission to honor the untold stories of the African American journey — celebrating the connections and contributions to American and global cultures — in unique and thought-provoking ways,” states the press release.
For more information, visit iaamuseum.org or call 843-872-5352.