Future museum devoted to African culture, history kicks off open house

GRAND JUNCTION, CO – It would be easy to drive right by the future home of Grand Junction’s first ever museum devoted to African history and culture and not notice anything different, but Jay Freeman has big plans to change that.

Located at 304 North Avenue, Suite 2B, the small storefront currently houses Freeman’s Treehouse retail shop, but he’s in the process of moving all the merchandise out and transitioning that business online. During this afternoon’s open house, among the apparel and accessories display racks were tables laden with food and beverages. Guests — all of them masked, thanks to Governor Polis’ executive order yesterday requiring them in all public indoor spaces starting today — mingled casually throughout the store and in the sidewalk out front.

Freeman said that “we had a lot of different people come out today — older, younger, white, Black, all over, you know. People were just very receptive to the idea of having an inclusive people’s museum in Grand Junction. So I feel great right now. The momentum’s heavy, and [I’m] ready to get to work.”

He invites community members to share their ideas and experiences with the museum and will welcome contributions of labor, materials, artifacts, and even stories.

“We all have some kind of contribution that we can all put into this place that’s for all of us.”

In the meantime, he and some of his friends and family are helping to clear the space of all the Treehouse merchandise so that they can repaint the walls and begin putting up QR codes. The QR codes will be displayed alongside posters and other cultural artifacts; visitors can scan the codes with their smartphones and get more information about the story and history behind each individual display. He hopes to be ready for the museum’s grand opening by September.

Freeman said he intends to operate the museum as a nonprofit. “We’ll apply for grants, and we already have some kind of RAW [Right & Wrong] funding for now.” He also plans to have fundraising events in the space.

“We’re not looking to make any profit, just enough to keep the lights on and keep the platform alive, you know?

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