A 638-square-foot storefront on Georgia Avenue in Washington, D.C., now houses the first museum in the world dedicated to HBCUs. Inside it, visitors will find historic photos and memorabilia from different HBCUs and prominent grads, as well as important artifacts from black American culture, like early issues of Ebony and Jet.
The museum, which opened March 9, was founded by Executive Director Terrence Forte and his family; both of Forte’s parents are Howard University grads. Forte said in a recent interview with the Washington Business Journal that the family’s intent with the museum is to “bridge the gap for those who might not know about historically black college and universities’ stories.”
The HBCU Museum will “highlight the accomplishment of not only HBCUs, but some of their most accomplished graduates,” the museum’s mission statement reads. The museum also plans to align itself with HBCUs to create scholarship opportunities for prospective students.
As the Business Journal reports, the HBCU Museum is currently at the first stage of a four-phase rollout. Forte hopes to expand into a more permanent location in D.C. soon and is looking to open a 6,000-square-foot space in Atlanta to serve as a second hub.
While individual HBCUs have museums on campus that honor their schools, Forte says that the HBCU Museum’s independence allows it to celebrate all 102 of the country’s historically black educational institutions. During a time when many HBCUs are struggling financially, Forte says, the museum is “ever so much more important” in educating people about how important HBCUs are, “not just for the people attending them, but for culture in general.”
The museum currently charges a $10 admittance fee and is open seven days a week. According to Madame Noire, a major launch event has been slated for late March or early April.