Celebrating Black History: Savannah African Art Museum

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 5:47 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The last two years have been especially difficult for museums with in-person crowds restricted for much of that time.

But the Savannah African Art Museum adapted, grew and enhanced its impact on the community in the face of COVID-19 and now reaches a larger audience than ever.

The art inside this re-purposed home on Savannah’s 37th Street is history. And history is not only being displayed but also made here.

“We have about 28 countries represented from Central and West Africa, within the collection over 180 cultural groups represented, Executive Director Billie Stultz said.

The Savannah African Art Museum contains the most comprehensive collection of its kind in Georgia, formed primarily on more than 1,000 pieces that the Kole family of Savannah acquired over four decades and wanted to share with the community and its youth.

“That’s his top priority, for the school kids to be able to come in here. He wants it to be available to all children, to all of the community, but he really wants the school aged kids to be able to come in here and the teachers not to have to worry about how expensive it is or anything,” Lisa Jackson said.

“The main purpose of the museum is to share the art and history with Savannah, especially the youth within the seventh grade middle school range.”

The museum has managed to expand that access and education continually since moving to this spot three years ago, despite two of those years being consumed by a pandemic. They have added new exhibits the last two Februarys, created virtual tours and added remote programming while many museums were closing down as a result of COVID-19.

“You know what it did? It helped us to reach a wider audience. We have people all over the world who are tuning in and watching.

“We’re still continuing to grow and the Kole’s are still actively collecting, so the collection still grows.”

And so does the museum’s impact locally, giving Savannah an unprecedented look inside the African culture.

“We’re very happy about the tourists coming as well, but we also want the people here in Savannah to know this is your museum. Come in.”

“There’s a presence in the museum, you can’t deny that. Once you walk in the door, it’s like you feel a presence and you’re walking among living, breathing history. So, it’s very humbling and it’s very honoring to be able to work in a space like this.”

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