Black Museums Matter: Telling a Black Museum Story
Can you begin to imagine a world where there are no places that will be dedicated to preserving the history and culture of African Americans for future generations to learn about and enjoy? Can you imagine that happening in Savannah Georgia, a place known worldwide for it’s dedication to documenting its rich historic buildings? Believe it or not African American museums are becoming an endangered species. In June 2013 the Center for the Study of African and African Diaspora Museums and Communities (CFSAADMC) relocated to Savanah Georgia.
In 1983 Virginia Jackson Kiah a portrait artist in Savanah Georgia appeared with the Kiah Museum in the Blacks in Museums Directory. This directory was the first published by the African American Museums Association (AAMA) and the Smithsonian Institution of Black professionals and museums. Research conducted by the CFSAADMC considers these participants as the African American pioneers in museums. When CFSAADMC acquired this directory for its collections the members began the process to determine the whereabouts of these participants and the status of those Black museums who were members of AAMA in 1983. CFSAADMC’s economic survival has depended on memberships and private sponsors. However in its efforts to also conduct extensive research on Virginia Kiah a 1983 participant in the directory who is now deceased and who’s home once served as a museum that is now in a state of deterioration. CFSAADMC requires more substantial support to acquire and restore the building, conduct oral histories, and engage in economic development efforts in the historic Savannah Cuyler Brownsville community where the Kiah Museum was located.
Mission of the Friends of the Kiah House Museum
The mission of the Friends of the Kiah House Museum is to lead a coordinated strategy to secure and preserve the Kiah House Museum, strengthen and advance the Cuyler Brownsville Neighborhood through long term economic development and community revitalization. We are a group of dedicated individuals who will continue to tell the story of Dr. Calvin L. Kiah, and his wife Virginia Jackson Kiah the founders of the Kiah Museum. The people involved in the Kiah’s museum, focus on historical preservation, and the relationship to the community that the Kiah Museum served. The Hudson Hill Golden Age quilters and other local quilters have come together to support the efforts of Savannah State University and CFSAADMC members’ research of the African American Museums Association (AAMA) 1983 Blacks in Museums Directory. The results are presented in an exhibition catalog, Kiah Day of Remembrance. Please visit our publications page to see this and all other publications by CFSAADMC.