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IAAM in Charleston announces new opening date

Hospitality and Tourism
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After delaying the original opening date to ensure conducive humidity levels, IAAM operators have set a June opening. (Photo/Greg Noir)The International African American Museum has set Tuesday, June 27, as the new date for the museum to open its doors.

The opening festivities will feature a number of community events in the days leading up to the launch, including an opening ceremony on June 24.

“We’re excited to open IAAM’s doors and showcase the incredible breadth of African American history,” Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the International African American Museum, said in a news release. “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.”

Originally scheduled for Jan. 21, the Museum’s opening was delayed while city of Charleston staff and contractors worked to stabilize humidity and temperature levels within the new building. With those issues now resolved, building operations will be transferred to the IAAM over the next several weeks, in preparation for the June opening, according to the news release.

The IAAM, which sits at the site of Gadsden’s Wharf — one of the nation’s most prolific former slave trading ports — includes nine core exhibition galleries and a special exhibition gallery, as well as a “floating” gallery that weaves contemporary art throughout the museum. The museum will open with more than 700 artifacts dating from 17th century to contemporary objects, alongside 1,000 image and media collection pieces — all of which help connect the African American journey to its roots and connections to African and African diaspora communities and cultures. The museum also houses the Center for Family History, a genealogy and ancestry resource center, which began hosting genealogy classes and workshops in 2020.

“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,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said in the release. “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.”

The museum’s opening date coincides with Juneteenth, the annual commemoration of the day in 1865 when 250,000 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned that they had been freed by the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation nearly two years earlier. The event has been long celebrated by many African American communities and was formally designated as a national holiday in 2021. 

Earlier this year, IAAM kicked off virtual and in-person programming in honor of Black History Month with a series of opportunities for both the local community and future visitors to engage with a variety of educational content. Next month, as final preparations for the official public opening begin, IAAM will host several in-person programs for the community to attend.

Reach Ross Norton at [email protected] or 864-642-5229.

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