In 1965, Dr. Charles H. Wright fulfilled his dream to establish a museum of African American history with the founding of the International Afro-American Museum. From its humble beginnings in a row house to its current 120,000 square foot home, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is currently the largest of its kind in the nation. In the past five years, The Wright has focused on five strategic areas to move the Museum forward—education, marketing, partnerships, service, and leadership. As a result, the Museum has restructured its organization, rebuilt its board, refocused its education mission, improved its service, and expanded its programs. At the same time, the nation and Detroit suffered a financial and economic crisis that has severely challenged the museum’s economic viability and our supporters’ capacity to give.
In this presentation we examine the challenges of how this people-centered, community-focused institution becomes financially sustainable and maximizes its resources to have a greater impact in this community. Our success will result in not just an African-American museum for African-Americans but a lens to understand what it means to be an American.
Juanita Moore has over 30 years of museum experience, serving at times as a curator, educator, administrator and museum planner. Ms. Moore is the current President and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, MI), the largest museum of its kind in the nation. Prior to assuming her current post, she served as Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum and the Gem Theater in Kansas City, MO. Ms. Moore served as founding Executive Director of the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN). In that capacity, she oversaw the construction and opening of the museum located at the Lorraine Motel, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ms. Moore also spent several years planning and subsequently opening the National African American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, OH. As a senior member of the planning team, she was pivotal in developing a strategy and concept for building a nationally donated collection.