The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce has been closed since August of 2011 because of a mold problem. The Ohio Historical Society has been working on fixing the issue so the museum can open its doors again.
The Ohio Historical Society's Jane Mason, says last summer there was a bloom of mold found in the museum which forced its closure. White mold spores were found on several artifacts as well. Staff members continued working but the museum has been closed ever since and even through Black History Month. Mason says that the Afro American Museum is one of 58 sites that the Historical Society maintains and its doing everything possible to make sure the mold problem gets corrected.
"We checked with experts at the Ohio State and other agencies just to make sure that we were being appropriate and cautious and careful and smart. There were actually experts in mold that came out and did testing and made recommendations," Mason said. "We are in the process of currently very carefully cleaning the artifacts that are in the museum."
Mason says it was painful to see the museum's doors closed during Black History Month, since it is a national resource on African American culture and history. She says that donors continue to contribute rare artifacts however, and the Historical Society sees a bright future for the museum.
"We have two sisters, the Coleman sisters, that have made a significant contribution of some new objects to the museum. That in itself is a huge gift that is important to African American studies," Mason said. "So it will allow researchers to come and do more study at the museum, and will allow the community to come in and become more familiar with leaders in the African American community. This is just another way that we are tickled to get the doors open and welcome the community back to this wonderful resource."
Mason says there is not a timetable set for the museum to reopen and the cleanup is expected to cost more than $430,000, which is the Historical Society's responsibility.