Thursday, May 19, 2005

Museum prepares for grand opening

Staff Writer

The renovation of the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum and Art Gallery will be celebrated with food and fanfare at a grand opening July 15. The reopening is scheduled in connection with the Ida B. Wells homecoming and birthday celebration, according to curator Leona Harris.

The museum has undergone nearly $200,000 in remodeling and repair made possible by private donations and a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

The front and side porches have been rebuilt, the roof replaced, the chimney tucked and pointed. A handicap accessible ramp has been built.

Inside, new drywall and paint and new carpets have been laid in portions of the home which is the birthplace of Ida B. Wells, a renown African American Civil Rights activist.

The museum has generated $4,000 from private donations and has another $4,000 to raise to complete the museum’s portion of the costs for renovation, Harris said. The donations make it possible to get more of the needed repairs, rather than leaving them for later.

Archives and History provided an extra $32,000 beyond its initial grant to help the museum make renovations more complete.

“We would not have been able to do a lot of things without the additional funds from Archives and History,” she said.

The museum is selling Ida B. Wells collectable postage stamp issues and envelopes dated February 1, 1990 at $100 each. Engraved sidewalk bricks are also for sale.

A full day of activities, including a catfish lunch and grand opening at noon and an evening barbecue is set for July 15. Tickets for the catfish dinner are $6.

“We are going to invite everybody who had a part in making this possible,” Harris said. “This is an open invitation to all readers to come and share with us on that day.”

Also, the Ida B. Wells Memorial Tour will be held in the City of Holly Springs on Saturday, July 16, instead of having an out-of-town tour, Harris said. Tickets for the tour are $55 and include five tour stops and lunch.

Volunteers are needed for the grand opening and the tour and for regular operation of the museum, she said.

The museum is taking applications for arts and crafts exhibit space and vendors for the birthday celebration.

The museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily.

To inquire about tickets, exhibit or vendor space, memorial bricks or to volunteer, contact Harris at 662-252-3232.

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