The Charles H. Wright Museum is the world’s largest African-American museum. Located in Detroit, the museum features annual festivals, interactive exhibits and films that draw hundreds of thousands of people.
Dr. Charles H. Wright, an African-American obstetrician, started the International Afro-American Museum in 1965. The traveling exhibits found a home in 1978 with the help of the city, students and friends. In 1985, the ‘IAM’ museum was upgraded to a $3.5 million-dollar facility.
But it wasn’t long before the exhibits outgrew the building and in 1992, a 125,000 square foot museum was built on East Warren Avenue. The latest version of the museum has more than 30,000 plus artifacts from the African and African-American diaspora. Some of its impressive exhibits include the Blanche Coggin Underground Railroad Collection, Harriet Tubman Museum Collection, the Coleman A. Young Collection and the Sheffield Collection.
There is also a comprehensive, 22,000 square foot, interactive exhibit on African American culture.
Other features of the Charles H. Wright Museum:
• The Ford Freedom Rotunda and its 100 x 65 foot high glass dome; this architectural wonder is two feet wider than the State Capitol dome.
• Ring of Genealogy, a 37-foot terrazzo tile creation by artist Hubert Massey surrounded by bronze nameplates of prominent African Americans in history.
• 92 flags displayed alphabetically by country and origin; these nations are places where significant numbers of African descendants reside.
• The Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center.
• The General Motors Theater, a 317-seat facility for live performances, film screenings, lectures, presentations and more.
• A museum Store that sells authentic African and African-American art, books and merchandise. Now that the city of Detroit is facing bankruptcy, funding for the Charles H. Wright museum is in question. As it stands, the city could sell some of the museum’s contents to help alleviate its $18 billion dollar debt.
The museum’s current budget is $4.5 million with city funding of $900,000. As part of their strategy to keep the doors of the museum open, CEO Juanita Moore has done outreach to churches and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, whose centennial anniversary is featured in an exhibit. Moore also held a benefit gala that brought in over $500 million dollars last year.
For more information or to visit Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum visit it’s official website.