Black History Month: Houston Museum of African-American History

Black History Month: Houston Museum of African-American History

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HOUSTON — Black History Month is a time for American of all colors to learn and understand the African-American experience. And for those who have lived it to look inside themselves and find out what being African-American means to them. There may be no better place to do both those things than at the Houston Museum of African-American culture.

Are Houston’s African American Arts Groups Getting A Smaller Piece Of The Funding Pie?

Original story via Houston Public Media

By Amy Bishop

The Houston Museum of African American Culture’s CEO John Guess says part of the problem is the disparity of income. It’s the notion that wealthy people only give to wealthy arts groups. “This city talks about diversity and its statistical population diversity only,” Guess says. “It’s not inclusion. And economically, we’re in the top five most economically segregated cities in the country.”

The museum, better known as the ‘HMAAC,’ held a forum to talk about the challenges facing Houston’s African American cultural institutions. It’s been a year since the city rolled out its new Arts and Cultural Plan and Guess is disappointed with the results.  But city officials say the door’s open. “We’re here and we’re ready to meet and talk individually, in small groups, and explore ideas,” says Debbie McNulty, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. She says they’ve spent part of the year bringing more art to neighborhoods that don’t have it.

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A museum forges ahead, ideas ablaze

With piles of sandbags flanking its entrance, the Houston Museum of African American Culture appears to be expecting a flood.

A deluge of funding would be welcome, but the sandbags are the foundation of a provocative art installation, "Fort HMAAC," by Otabenga Jones & Associates, a Houston artists' collective whose work has also appeared in the prestigious Whitney Biennial.

"Fort HMAAC" was commissioned by CEO John Guess Jr. to coincide with "first glimpse" events at the museum last month.

"I like to make statements, as you can tell," Guess said recently, sitting in the museum's sparsely-furnished conference room. "The kids call me Nino Brown (a reference to Wesley Snipes' tough character in the film "New Jack City"). They say, 'John is gangsta.' " 

Guess wanted the installation to express his sense that HMAAC is under seige and deserves protection.

 

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