2004: Charles H. Wright African-American Museum Donation
June 24, 2008
2004 – This past summer, Jalen made a monetary donation to help keep
this Detroit African-American museum open. The Charles H. Wright Museum
of African History strives to be a world renowned history museum with
outstanding collections and research used to produce innovative
exhibits that celebrate significant events and accomplishments of
African Americans. To make a donation of your own, click here: Museum Donations.
Dr. Charles Wright, an obstetrician and gynecologist, envisioned an
institution to preserve Black history after visiting a memorial to
Danish World War II heroes in Denmark. As a result of this visit, he
was convinced that Black Americans needed a similar resource center to
document, preserve and educate the public on their history, life and
In 1965, he established Detroit’s first International Afro-American
Museum. The museum, known by the acronym IAM, opened on West Grand
Boulevard with dozens of exhibits showcasing such items as African
masks from Nigeria and Ghana and the inventions of Elijah McCoy. A year
later, the IAM traveling museum, housed in a converted mobile home,
began touring the state and spreading information about the
contributions of African Americans. The Museum quickly outgrew its
In the fall of 1978, the City of Detroit agreed to lease the Museum a
plot of land between John R and Brush to build a facility five times
larger than its predecessor. In order to raise funds, Detroit Public
School students participated in a "Buy a Brick" campaign, raising
$80,000 for the new facility. Following the students’ initiative, a
group of adults started the Million Dollar Club in which each member
pledged at least $1,000. This major fundraiser earned $300,000.
In 1985, the Afro-American Museum and the City of Detroit formed a
partnership to build a new facility in the city’s University Cultural
Center, securing the funding to complete the $3.5 million facility.
The name of the International Afro-American Museum was changed to the
Museum of African American History and ground was broken for the last
facility on May 21, 1985. Two years later, the doors of the Museum of
African American History were reopened to the public at 301 Frederick
Douglass, Detroit, Michigan. The new 28,000 square foot structure was
anchored by a permanent exhibit that examined the richness of African
civilization from the "Middle Passage" to the Underground Railroad in
the escape to freedom. With a series of exhibits, lectures, concerts,
cultural celebrations, festivals and programs designed especially for
children, it preserved the past and strengthened the future.
In 1992, Detroit voters authorized the City of Detroit to sell
construction bonds to finance a larger, more accommodating building.
Ground was broken for the third generation of the Museum in August of
1993. This new 120,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility will be
the largest African American historical museum in the world.
With the support of Mayor Dennis Archer, the Museum campaigned for an
additional $10 million bond to complete the new MAAH. In August 1996,
the community continued to show its support for the Museum by passing
Proposal B with a 72% voter’s approval. More than 30 years later, the
reality of Dr. Charles Wright’s vision will reach national and
international audiences with the opening of the new Museum of African
American History on April 12, 1997.
The new Museum of African American History is located in the heart of
Detroit’s Cultural Center at 315 East Warren at Brush Street. The
CHWMAAH is next to the Detroit Science Center and within one block
walking distance of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Tuesdays: 9:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday through Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
(313) 494- 5800; FAX (313) 494-5855