As Black History Month neared its end Saturday, a media event in Fort Worth held up the promise of a compelling future for the city and visitors from around the world who may one day explore the planned National Juneteenth Museum.
The event introduced Dr. Lauren Cross, the museum’s new executive strategist, and offered updates on the museum’s progress.
Introduced by the museum’s project advisor, Jarred Howard, as “an incredibly astute museum expert,” Dr. Cross spoke to the impact the project promises for Fort Worth and beyond.
‘An epicenter for the story of Juneteenth’
“I’m excited to develop and consult on a plan to inspire, empower, and really tell the story of Juneteenth and why it matters to the world,” Cross said at the event. “What we’re building is not just a museum. We are building an epicenter for the story of Juneteenth and its impact globally.”
Cross said one of the newest steps taken for the museum is the launch of a national “call for artifacts” on the museum’s website, to help tell the Juneteenth story.
As a 2022 recipient of the North Texas Community Foundation’s Fund to Advance Racial Equity (FARE) grant, the museum was able to hire Cross to consult and develop the museum’s curatorial plan, laying the foundation for the museum’s programming and organization.
A native Texan and descendent of enslaved people, Cross aims to advance Opal Lee’s vision for the museum by bringing her experience as a founder and curator at Fort Worth’s WoCA Projects, her work as assistant professor of interdisciplinary arts and design studies at UNT, her current position as the Gail-Oxford associate curator of American Decorative Arts at The Huntington in San Marino, California, and more.
Fort Worth has pledged $15M toward museum’s $70M construction
In September, the Fort Worth City Council voted unanimously to pledge $15 million for the museum’s development, to be delivered once the balance of the $70 million budget has been raised. The project has been in the making for several years, but was officially announced in last December 2021.
Designed by the New York office of Denmark-based Bjarke Ingels Group, the 50,000-square-foot building will house the museum on its second level, with a business incubator, food hall, 250-seat amphitheater, and storefronts at ground level.
Groundbreaking for the museum is slated for later this year, with a public opening planned for June 19, 2025.
Demolition has begun on the museum site
Dione Sims, the granddaughter of Fort Worth’s Opal Lee—who became known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” after advocating for its recognition as a federal holiday—is a legacy board member of the museum. She delivered some news of the first steps being taken at the museum site.
“We’re excited today to announce that demolition has started on the corner of Rosedale and Evans, which means we’re getting starting on bringing the National Juneteenth Museum vision to fruition,” Sims said.
Opal Lee herself described the site as offering Fort Worth more than just a museum. It’s located in Fort Worth’s Historic Southside neighborhood, which was once part of a thriving African American community known as the “Black Wall Street of the South.”
“That corner is going to revitalize that neighborhood,” Opal Lee said. “The fact that it’s going to have a museum, it’s going to have a theater, it’s going to have an incubator for young businesses.”
To learn more about the museum, you can visit its website here.
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