Inspiring Minds: it’s not just the name of our newest permanent exhibit. It’s also an extraordinarily apt description of what the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History does, day in and day out, for people of all ages and backgrounds. Exploring the African American experience through the arts, humanities, law, literacy, science, and health, The Wright Museum provides an array of aesthetic, interpretive, and intellectual opportunities to inspire visitors for a lifetime.
At our 2012 Annual Meeting held on December 6, we took a look back at the many accomplishments of the past year. These include:
• Partnering with over 90 organizations including universities, cultural institutions, and the U.S. Department of Education to present an incredible diversity of programming including close to 200 educational and public events
• Hosting 12 new exhibitions including Visions of Our 44th President, a groundbreaking collaboration with 44 contemporary artists from across the country that will be the Museum’s first national traveling exhibit
• The Jerry Pinkney Celebrity Children’s Book Fair, the success of which resulted in the awarding of an endowment by the Knight Foundation to fund this literacy program on an ongoing basis
At 125,000 square feet and with a collection of over 35,000 artifacts, The Wright Museum is the largest museum of African American history in the world. But our impact goes far beyond our physical footprint. We provide needed educational opportunities to thousands of children throughout the region, and serve over a half million people per year – locally, nationally, and internationally – through our exhibits, programs, websites, and events such as African World Festival, which celebrated its 30th year in 2012. For the first time ever, AWF was held on the museum grounds.
Over the next year, the Inspiring Minds exhibition will show thousands of children that with hard work and the will to succeed, their dreams can be attained. Perhaps the next big scientific breakthrough in medicine, environmental protection, or consumer technology will find its seed in the galleries of The Wright Museum.
Furthermore, a father may be encouraged by his children to read to them by what they experience in our Children’s Discovery Room. A graduate student can make a new connection for their thesis in our research library. And a young couple will start a new life together with vows said under the Ford Freedom Rotunda dome.
These things we do, and will continue to, for children, parents, seniors, performing artists, budding scientists, all people, the rich and the poor – Inspiring Minds, for what comes next, by understanding what came before: fostering context; encouraging contemplation; and enabling creation, understanding, and cooperation.
As we enter 2013, I want you to think not of what we have done in the past, but what we will do going forward. How are we helping to foster the rebirth of this great city and region? And simultaneously, how are we reaching and including those that are barely getting by, who are struggling to survive, so that they may partake in the revitalization all around us? Detroit cannot be held back, and it can’t leave anyone behind. It’s obvious that much more needs to be done, and that our reach, the impact of the Museum’s mission of education, must be both deeper and wider. We need partnerships with the Arab American and Latino communities, with the outer suburbs and inner city organizations, with individuals and entities providing for the educational, health, and spiritual needs of our children and adults. We’re all moving forward – together – and each and every one of us needs to jump in and play a part.