Grant fuels effort to find museum new home


George Bayard is operating the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives from a temporary location, as he organizes a $3.8-million campaign to fully implement a permanent museum. Photo by Johnny Quirin

A $150,000 grant will help a local museum find a new home.

The Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives, or GRAAMA, recently received the grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Fund for Community Good.

“We are excited about our partnership with GRAAMA, because the stories of African-Americans and their legacies in Grand Rapids deserve to be told with the empathy, passion, pride and connectivity of those who understand them best,” said Janean Couch, program director, Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

“GRAAMA’s efforts to secure a permanent location align with our values in helping to create a community where we connect across perspectives.”

The grant is aimed toward supporting the museum pre-campaign efforts of establishing a permanent home for the facility, which has been located at 87 Monroe Center NW since its doors opened in December 2016.

The funds are also dedicated to organizational sustainability and archiving collections that represent African-American history and culture.

“We are extremely elated to partner with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation through this award,” said George Bayard, curator and director, GRAAMA.

“This grant is huge for GRAAMA and the community as a whole. In the three years that that museum has existed on Monroe Center, our programs and exhibits have garnered overflow crowds and national buzz. Our dream was always to have our own, larger facility, and this grant allows us to concentrate on raising the needed capital for a new building.”

Michael Curtis, board chair for GRAAMA, said the grant "demonstrates the foundation’s faith in GRAAMA’s continuing impact to deliver exceptional educational and cultural exhibits to our residents and visitors alike."

“These funds provide opportunities that are good for the community, since we’ve been able to unearth and present the hidden and neglected history of local African-American people who made a significant impact in West Michigan,” Curtis said.

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