African American Museum of Iowa plans $5M renovation project

Walter S. Timmons

Renovations to the African American Museum of Iowa will significantly change the exterior and interior of the museum in southeast Cedar Rapids, pictured Tuesday. The museum will be undergoing significant renovations of its building in a $5 million capital marketing campaign, piggybacking off a $1 million contribution from the city of Cedar Rapids as the new flood wall is constructed. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

The Cedar River flows past the African American Museum of Iowa in southeast Cedar Rapids. The museum will be going through big renovations in a $5 million capital campaign, piggybacking off a $1 million contribution from the city of Cedar Rapids as the new flood wall is built together the close by river. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

An artist’s rendering shows what the entrance of the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids will glance like after main renovations set to start off in tumble 2022. (Submitted)

An artist’s rendering reveals what the northeast corner of the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids will search like just after main renovations set to commence in slide 2022. (Submitted)

An artist’s rendering reveals what the lobby of the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids will appear like just after key renovations set to start out in slide 2022. (Submitted)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A $5 million renovation challenge prompted by design of the city’s flood command system will improve the deal with of Iowa’s only African American museum as it launches a eyesight for a even bigger statewide presence.

The African American Museum of Iowa’s front entrance, which will be blocked by the prepared floodgate together 12th Avenue SE, will be moved to the building’s east aspect. A $1.07 million contribution from the city of Cedar Rapids will help cover the entrance relocation, impacted exterior landscaping, an upgraded lobby house and updated parking good deal at 55 12th Ave. SE.

But in its major marketing campaign due to the fact it moved to its current building in 2003, the museum will be taking the task a few steps additional to tackle extensive desired fixes and updates.

“Now is the time to make our statewide eyesight tangible,” stated Executive Director LaNisha Cassell. “I do see that we have an possibility to have a statewide existence … and the existing making does not replicate what most individuals envision for a museum that should have that type of draw.”

The museum is doing the job to capitalize on the option to make its most important updates and expansions in 19 a long time as the physical barriers are set up alongside the Cedar River. Significant fixes for and updates to a leaky roof, the heating, air flow and air conditioning program, plumbing and other functional necessities have been eyed for a number of a long time.

On the outside the house of a modern facade, the parking lot along 12th Avenue SE will be changed with landscaping and the reinstalled Trumpet sculpture influenced by Martin Luther King Jr., which was taken down in April.

“This museum has been historically underfunded in typical,” explained Zack Bohannon, campaign chair for Voices Inspiring Development. “We’re on the lookout to go major on this campaign and make sure that this is not just a metropolis corporation — this is a statewide mission, we are the African American Museum of Iowa.”

The $5 million marketing campaign has been silently fundraising for a couple months now with bold pitches that are asking some companies for their biggest donations of the yr. The museum has secured $2.05 million and awaits an added $1.7 million in pending asks that Cassell and Bohannon are self-assured in receiving. By the finish of the summertime, the marketing campaign chair expects to have $3 million in secured pledges.

In addition to the city’s pledge, funded by fiscal aid by means of the U.S. Division of Housing and City Growth, the museum has secured pledges of $750,000 from the Hall-Perrine Foundation, $100,000 from Transamerica, $50,000 from Collins Local community Credit score Union, $50,000 from GreenState Basis and $30,000 from UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital.

UnityPoint’s reward is the premier it has supplied to a nonprofit, and Collins Community Credit history Union’s gift is the greatest it has ever specified to a money marketing campaign, Bohannon reported.

In addition to the renovation, the cash marketing campaign will spur a multifaceted system to improve the museum’s endowment, bolster donor relations and make worker compensation additional aggressive.

The museum will shut down Aug. 6 and continue to be shut until September 2023. In the mean time, it options to revamp traveling displays to set up a bigger footprint in a condition exactly where African American instruction is equally preferred and needed.

New traveling displays will be on extra timely subject areas like immigration, natural beauty criteria and modern protests. The upgraded, additional refined displays will visit never ever-just before-witnessed communities for up to nine months rather of their preceding two-7 days stints.

Starting up Oct. 13, an show on the so-identified as “school to prison pipeline” and systematic oppression in public schooling will be available at the Downtown Cedar Rapids General public Library.

With sustained demand for African American training that spiked soon after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 in Minneapolis, Cassell said the museum has develop into far more of a system for programming — a change away from just getting a repository of heritage.

“National protests following George Floyd’s murder ramped up people’s willingness and wish to do some thing they hadn’t done in advance of,” she stated. “Not only self-educating, but (asking), ‘How can I be an ally?’”

As the museum would make superior on the operative key phrases in its name — “of Iowa” — Cassell anticipates that revamped journey reveals will attract new audiences to the museum’s dwelling in Cedar Rapids.

“The actual physical making alone is heading to be substantial. It’s heading to be a lot more welcoming and inviting,” she stated. “We’re likely to match in improved with the landscape of the community.”

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