Maryland Black History Museum Awarded $50K Grant to Preserve Artifacts

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A Black history museum in Annapolis, Maryland, has received a huge grant to preserve its artifacts nearly three weeks after Juneteenth.

The grant for Banneker-Douglass Museum was reported by The Associated Press Tuesday, a day after the state’s Governor’s Office on Community Initiatives announced that the Institute of Museum and Library Services had awarded a $50,000 grant to make the conservation of historic objects happen.

Exterior and interior photos of the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis. The museum was once housed in and now includes the former Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, and focuses on Maryland’s African-American heritage and history. (Photo: Lavanya Ramanathan/Getty)

The upgrades will permit the institution to suitably house and maintain critical parts of the Old Line State’s Black history. Specifically, the grant will serve the Fine Art and African Art Collections at Banneker-Douglass.

The museum is named after free-born mathematician, astronomer and naturalist Benjamin Banneker and famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who were both Maryland natives. Banneker-Douglass houses over 12,000 artifacts as well as an archives library and exhibition spaces. According to the museum’s official website, it was originally established in the old Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was located in the center of the state’s historic capital city of Annapolis. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, two years after its inclusion in the Annapolis Historic District. Now, it includes the historic church, which was built in 1875 and sold to Anne Arundel County in 1970 due to financial hardship, according to Atlas Obscura.

Mt. Moriah AME Church was transformed into a museum after a community-led effort, which spurred Banneker-Douglass to open its doors 35 years ago. That same community spirit is what informs the institution’s services, like public tours and programming, the official website states.

Not only does the grant come weeks after the day marking the anniversary of the freeing of the last slaves in Texas, but it also comes on a special local commemoration. The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, which opened the Black history museum, also celebrated its 50th anniversary in June. Themed, “We Rise, Preserving Maryland’s African American Heritage,” a celebration was held at Banneker-Douglass on June 29.

Meanwhile, including the $50,000 grant given to the institution, the AP reported $2.2 million in total has been awarded to 14 grantees.

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