'Biggest Black History Museum.'(Museum of African American History Opens in Detroit, Michigan)(Brief Article)

Article excerpt

Detroit's Museum of African American History calls itself the "world's largest Black history museum," and its $38.4 Million structure and world-class exhibits clearly establish this new cultural jewel among the nation's most magnificent tributes to African-Americans.

When the museum opened last spring, it was the culmination of a long journey from its mid-'60s origin in the medical office building owned by founder, Dr. Charles H. Wright, on West Grand Boulevard. A retired obstetrician-gynecologist who has delivered more than 7,000 babies, Dr. Wright founded the International Afro-American Museum in 1965 in an effort to introduce innovative ways to educate people about Black culture and to encourage self-esteem. The current 120,000-square-foot institution was preceded by a more modest facility that opened in 1985 in the University Cultural Center.

Museum officials express gratitude to Dr. Wright and his vision to provide Black Detroiters with a major symbol of racial pride. "Without his vision, energy and resources, the museum we are experiencing today would not be a reality," says Arthur Jefferson, the museum's board chairman.

Dr. Wright says he knew that the establishment of the museum would "enable us to seize the authority of researching, interpreting and publishing our history from those who have done so to our disadvantage." He wanted to help fill the information gap about Black people for all Americans.

The new museum is located in Detroit's Cultural Center near the Science Center, Institute of Arts, Medical Center and Wayne State University. It houses three exhibition galleries, a domed lobby and unique rotunda floor, a 317-seat theater, an orientation amphitheater, three classrooms, two multipurpose rooms, a state-of-the-art research library, a museum store and a restaurant.

The museum's main exhibit, titled Of The People: The African American Experience, covers 16,000 square feet and presents one of the largest exhibitions created in this country on African-American people, reflecting a 600-year survey of the African legacy and heritage. …