The International African American Museum (IAAM) in Charleston is set to open in January 2023. Its location is within view of Gadsden’s Wharf, once the largest slave port in the United States.

According to The Art Newspaper, the museum “will provide a comprehensive overview of the cultural, socio-economic and psychological history of slavery, and the ways it continues to impact today.” It will also serve as a guide for Black people to learn more about their ancestry. More specifically, they’ll be able to find out whether their ancestors passed through Gadsden’s Wharf.

Tonya Matthews, the president and chief executive, is confident the museum will be a valuable teaching tool for visitors.

“What a museum like this can bring is context—an understanding of the historical context of racism,” she said. “Charleston, in particular, is the right place to have these conversations. It’s a place where African Americans pushed forward—but it’s also where we were pushed back.”

Since there is more to our history than slavery, the museum will feature other chapters of the Black experience. Segments will focus on The Great Migration as well as Black art spanning the eras. There will be nine galleries; one temporary, the others permanent.

The Art Newspaper explained, “the $125m museum will span 150,000 square feet. It stands on 13 -foot tall pillars, which dramatically lift the structure above a memorial garden.”

To add to the striking visuals, there’s going to be a garden, which houses plants linked to the Caribbean, West Africa and South Carolina.

The museum’s objective is not only to educate but build bridges between the past and the present. For all the advances made, some of the same issues persist where racism is concerned. The Art Newspaper rightly noted that “racial tensions still run high in Charleston.” Police brutality and racially-fueled crimes are still present nationwide.

“Charleston has been at the center of these hard conversations since the founding of our nation,” said Matthews. “A museum that incorporates art into that conversation gives us another way of telling this story.”

Please consider supporting this important cultural center next year!