Charleston’s International African American Museum construction update

Recently, the CHStoday team took a hard hat construction tour of the nonprofit museum which will serve as a center that will highlight + educate others about the journey of millions of Africans, captured and forced across the Atlantic in the grueling and inhumane Middle Passage, who arrived at Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston and other ports in the Atlantic World. 

The museum will stand 13 feet off of the ground + sit on 18 strong columns and will aim to empower its visitors with the knowledge of the past in hopes that the journey will challenge, illuminate, inspire and ultimately, will move people to action.

International African American Museum’s atrium | Photo provided

Museum features

African Ancestors Memorial Garden – This 103,725 sq.ft. garden, designed by North Carolina native landscape designer Walter Hood, will be situated on the ground level, free and open to the public, + highlight the original shoreline — the exact spot where so many captive Africans first set foot in America.

○ Gardens for quiet contemplation There will also be space for performances + programs. 

○ Exhibitions – Exhibits will share untold stories with themes that will include connections across the African diaspora, the spread of African American culture and influence and the movements for justice and equality.  

The Center for Family History – Visitors will have the opportunity to trace their genealogy, while changing exhibitions and special events will keep the museum empowered. 

Planned Galleries

Transatlantic Experience

SouthCarolina Connections 

Atlantic Worlds

AfricanRoots/African Routes 

Carolina Gold

Gullah Geechee

American Journeys

Changing Exhibition Gallery

International African American Museum construction | Photo by CHStoday team

The Numbers + Design

The capital campaign to design and build the International African American Museum is projected to be $97 million

The source of funds include $43.4 in donations from individuals, corporations and foundations, $25 million from the City of Charleston + Charleston County, $25 million from the State of South Carolina, and $3.6 million from New Market Tax Credit

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners is the design architect for the museum. Some of the firm’s best-known work includes the crystalline extension to the Louvre in Paris, the JFK Presidential Library in Boston and the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. 

Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the firm who also designed the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the American Museum of Natural History, is designing the exhibits at the IAAM.

Completion of the museum located at 14 Wharfside St. is on track for summer of 2021 and the opening date is scheduled for 2022

For updates visit their official site here and keep up with the museum @iaamuseum on Facebook, Instagram + Twitter.