Flood wall prompts changes to African American Museum of Iowa

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 4:14 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Flood protection is prompting changes at the African American Museum of Iowa. A campaign is working to raise $5 Million for some major renovations. The renovations will shut the museum down for several months starting September 24th.

“The flood wall is going to be going through the parking lot of the museum and so because of that we have to reorient our entrance and our lobby,” said LaNisha Cassell, Executive Director of the African American Museum of Iowa.

While construction is underway the museum will have an exhibit set up at the downtown Cedar Rapids library, as well as libraries in Des Moines, and other locations across the state like college campuses.

The flood of 2008 put 5.5 feet of water inside the African American Museum of Iowa. While it reopened the following year, the nearly 20-year-old building is in need of some updates.

”It made sense for us to tackle some of the long standing concerns we’ve already had over the years like a new roof, HVAC, sprinkler, updating our office spaces,” Cassell explained.

A new entrance will have the building face 2nd street instead of the 12th Avenue bridge.

The City of Cedar Rapids is giving more than $1.3 Million to the project, which has had the support of several major donors.

”We are at about, we’re over $2.5 million and we anticipate being closer to $4 million by the end of the year,” Cassell said.

The goal is to reach $5 million for the renovations, plus another $1 million for endowment.

”It’s important for us to be able to be here for generations to come and so we included that in our goal,” added Cassell.”

The hope is to continue the mission of preserving and teaching about African American heritage in the state for years to come.

Construction on the building is anticipated to start early next year. They anticipate being done with construction by the end of 2023.

For now the museum is making arrangements to move their collection and their offices off site