National Blacks In Wax Museum

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The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum 1601-03 East North Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21213
Office: 410-563-3404
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Explore Our Past: Plan Our Future National Blacks in Wax Museum
Then and Now
Where We Are Presently

Where We Plan To Be

Where We Plan To Be


When Elmer and I founded the nation's first wax museum of African American history in a storefront in 1983, little did we know that we were laying the foundation for what would become a national treasure. Those individuals who frequent The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum bear witness to our dramatic growth over the years. We have used virtually all of the 15,000 square feet of space in what was once an abandoned firehouse. Our annual visitors has skyrocketed over the past decade, going from 43,000 in 1989 to more than 200,000 today. Fifty-three percent of our visitors come from outside Maryland. They hail from every state in the nation including Alaska and Hawaii. Internationally, Japan, Israel, Africa, England, Germany, Spain, Poland and many other countries are represented in our visitor profile. The Great Blacks In Wax Museum story has been heralded by news media around the world, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Chicago Sun Times, The Dallas Morning News, Kulturwelt, USA/Africa, The Los Angeles Times, Air Tran's Go Magazine, USA Today, Crisis, Essence Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, BET, CBS Sunday Morning, To Tell the Truth, the CBS News Early Show, Spike TV and CN8.

There are many great things on the horizon. We are extremely excited about our $50 million dollar capital campaign. The success of More Than a Museum, "The Campaign for The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, Inc. will enable us to develop an even greater institution as we enter the 21st century. The groundwork for the capital improvements is already being laid, and will ultimately enable the Museum to expand along the entire 1600 block of East North Avenue.

With the completion of our acquisition program, we have acquired not only the entire 1600 block of North Avenue, but also Eareckson Place and Bethel Street in the Museum's rear. We are embarking on a four-phase campaign to expand from our current location of 15,000 sq. ft. to over 120,000 sq. ft. of interactive exhibitions. The City of Baltimore worked with the Museum to acquire the properties from Bond to Dallas Streets in the 1500 block of North Avenue for the development of a commercial district of "tourism-friendly" businesses.

53 properties in the rear of The Great Blacks In Wax Museum have been demolished and will result in off street parking for the museum; residential rear yard landscaping; placement of underground utilities servicing the residents of Bond, Lafayette, Broadway streets, and the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum. This space will be converted into a courtyard. Within it there will be developed the Elmer P. Martin Memorial Garden, a parking area, and a museum main entrance. Thus the rear area, which currently encompasses a dangerous and unappealing space, is being transformed into an inviting focal point where visitors will park their cars or de-board their buses to enter the new Museum. The main entryway is being designed to immediately orient the visitor to the compelling history about to be experienced. On North Avenue, itself the front facades will be restored while new construction will lead to a continuous state of the art facility.

Clearly, The Great Blacks In Wax Museum will have a profound impact on the East North Avenue corridor. As we prepare to meet the challenges of expansion, we recognize clearly the critical need to work toward the beautification and physical renewal of the Oliver Community, where the Museum is located.

The city of Baltimore and state of Maryland have committed to providing support for this project, and Congressman Elijah Cummings and Senator Barbara Mikulski are championing our cause through the federal government.

Essentially then, our expansion program represents an effort to build a public/private partnership designed to create a stronger Great Blacks In Wax Museum more able to promote neighborhood revitalization, tourism, and cultural awareness.

For Elmer and me, a primary motivation for establishing the Museum was to "use education, history, and example to help mainly culturally disadvantaged youth overcome feelings of alienation, defeatism, and despair". Of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the museum each year, many are African American children. As a result of their exposure to the Museum and its programs, these young people know more about their heritage and have a greater understanding of significant contributions to civilization by people of African descent. Ultimately, they are better prepared to challenge those who would tell them they have no history worth remembering. And by reaching out to culturally diverse communities, Great Black In Wax can show that people can celebrate their differences and all that makes them members of the human family.

From the beginning, my husband Elmer had a clear vision for shaping and guiding the Museum. The ability to move forward in fulfilling that vision requires a concerted effort of the general public who support the work of the museum by visiting and contributing; elected officials who are advocates for the institution's continued growth and development; and private and public funders willing to invest not only in a cultural past but also in the future of succeeding generations, helping them become secure in their place in history and knowledgeable of their historical role in the making and shaping of the world in which they live.

The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum will always remain true to the vision of my late husband Elmer. We are committed to remaining a place of legacies, one that tells our stories and tells them well

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