MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery in north Minneapolis is back open after closing in March due to the pandemic. The new exhibitions give visitors a glimpse into the last few months.
"It was strange but it also gave us an opportunity to look at what was going on because museums have always been repositories of history. This was a historic moment and then of course with the death of George Floyd, it became even more imperative that we record this history and what was going on," said Coventry Cowens, co-founder of MAAHMG.
The museum's reopening includes new exhibitions documenting the civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd. One of the exhibitions is a portrait photography collection by John Steitz called "Gather In His Name: From Protests to Healing for George Floyd" which is prominently on display inside the museum.
Cowens, while recalling the video of Floyd's death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, said, "I was saddened, hurt. It was probably one of those worst days of your life and... I think that a lot of people, it really struck them very hard that this was real. This man died in front of their eyes. With that happening, I think people began to understand what a lot of Black people were going through."
In July, MAAHMG organized a Black Lives Matter mural on Plymouth Avenue—created by 16 artists.
The museum is also putting current events into context. Another exhibition reflects on how it's been 100 years since the lynchings in Duluth of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie.
"That's what learning history is all about is let's not repeat this but sometimes we do. We just have to reconcile that we're going to have to learn a harder lesson to improve the way we interact with each other as humans and improve our humanity with each other," Cowens said.
Cowens hopes the museum can serve as a space for growth.
"You'll see and feel and, again, you might start to process it all over again. We want you to understand it's here for you to learn, and carry on with the process of building better social justice for everyone in the community."
MAAHMG's reopening comes with COVID-19 safety measures in place. Masks are required and they're letting no more than 10 visitors in at a time. Admission is free but tickets can be reserved online.
MAAHMG is located at 1256 Penn Ave. N in Minneapolis.
Tuesday - Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.