Charleston’s International African-American Museum is $1 million closer to reality thanks to a contribution from Daniel Island-based tech firm Blackbaud. The donation was announced Wednesday at Gadsden’s Wharf, the proposed future site of the 35,000-square-foot facility.
“This is a very big moment in the history of the International African-American Museum. Seldom does a city have the opportunity to create something that contributes to the success, well-being, and edification of its nation,” said former Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., who called the project his chief goal in life. “But that is the case here on this land, where more enslaved Africans were brought than any other place in North America, considered one of the most sacred places in African-American history in this hemisphere.”
The $1 million contribution from Blackbaud will go toward the total cost for constructing the museum, which is estimated at approximately $75 million. Earlier this year, former Kraft and Coca-Cola business executive Michael Moore was named as the first president and CEO of the International African-American Museum. Tasked with raising the $25 million in private funds necessary to begin construction on the museum, Moore estimates the current amount of financial commitments from private donors to be around $5-6 million, double the amount that was quoted when he came on board in early March.
In addition to that money, the City of Charleston and Charleston County have agreed to contribute $25 million, and annual state funds are being set aside to match that amount. If this funding effort remains on course, the museum could open its doors by the end of 2018 or early 2019.
“The mayor and I are constantly out talking to folks. We’ve not had one bad meeting, so we believe that things are going to come together quite nicely,” said Moore.
According to Moore, the museum will include a memorial to the enslaved Africans brought to Charleston, an exhibit called Atlantic Connections, which will endeavor to uncover the cultures and diversity of the people who arrived in America in chains, and a center for family history that will allow visitors to learn more about their ancestors. In addition to those exhibits, museum staff will be working with Blackbaud to create a digital media lab that will allow people to experience the museum from anywhere in the world.
“Today, we are standing on hallowed ground. As a company headquartered here in Charleston, we take that seriously and want to do our part to ensure diversity and history are celebrated in this great city,” said Blackbaud CEO Mike Gianoni. “At Blackbaud, we believe all people deserve the opportunity to know their heritage and to understand the role their families played in shaping history and culture. This museum is making this possible for the African-American community, and we’re proud to support it.”
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