BAR praises International African American Museum design

VIDEO: BAR praises International African American Museum design
Published: Mar. 8, 2017 at 4:55 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2017 at 6:35 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The International African American Museum moved one step closer to opening its doors Wednesday.
The Board of Architectural Review granted final approval for the design of the downtown museum set to be built along Charleston Harbor.

Preliminary approval for the museum was gr anted in Sept. 2016 though the board recommended some changes to the initial design.
Once built, the $75 million museum will sit on what was once Gadsden's Wharf near the Maritime Center. According to historians, around forty percent of enslaved Africans arrived in America at Gadsden's Wharf. Museum CEO Michael Moore said the museum's design pays tribute to that history.

"The museum is raised about 14 feet off the ground, in part to acknowledge and thoughtfully present the ground underneath it which is really sacred ground," Moore said. "A place where the greatest number of enslaved Africans took their first footsteps in America."

According to Moore, the design includes plans for galleries featuring the "Atlantic Connection, as well as an opportunity for individuals to discover their own personal history.

"The museum will tell the African American history from 1670 when the first enslaved came here to the present and then the center for family history will leverage genealogical resources," Moore said.

Moore said the diversity of cultures will also be featured.

"From a variety of different cultures and languages and food ways and religions, and we want to sort of explore that," Moore said.

The idea for the museum was first conceived by Charleston's former Mayor Joseph P. Riley in 2000. Moore said Riley continues to help with fundraising efforts. $19 million is needed, according to Moore, from private donations in order to break ground.

"We're feeling really encouraged and there's absolutely light at the end of the tunnel, and I think today's BAR meeting is a key point in that," Moore said.

The museum is expected to open in 2019 with a groundbreaking possible later this year.

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