Just days before the 2022 Juneteenth federal holiday, observed Monday, June 20, the team behind the National Juneteenth Museum being built in Fort Worth revealed big new plans and renderings.
According to a release, the museum will be housed in a "purposefully designed space" that will not only preserve the history of Juneteenth, but will help revitalize the city's Historic Southside neighborhood. The museum will be built on the Rosedale Street spot that currently houses a Fort Worth Juneteenth Museum curated by "Grandmother of Juneteenth" Opal Lee, which has served the community for nearly two decades.
"As an extension of her legacy, the museum will be the epicenter for education, preservation, and celebration of Juneteenth nationally and globally," organizers say in the release.
The museum will be a 50,000-square-foot building that will host exhibits, discussions, and events about the significance of the African American path to freedom. At the helm are lead designer BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and North Texas-based architect, African American-owned firm KAI Enterprises.
The museum is expected to break ground in 2023.
“Our hope is that this building will become a gateway to the Historic Southside community of Fort Worth while serving as a national and global destination," says BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group partner Douglass Alligood in the release. "Juneteenth is not only American history — it is world history.”
The design will include elements that "embrace the local African American experience at-large through motifs and symbolic touch points inspired by the gabled rooftops that define the Historic Southside neighborhood and the nova star, meaning ‘new star’," the release says. "The nova star represents a new chapter for the African Americans looking ahead towards a more just future."
A publicly accessible courtyard at the center will include a "five point" star engraved in gold to represent both Texas ("the last state to adopt and acknowledge the freedom of African American slaves") and nods to the American flag, they say.
"Our engagement with Ms. Opal Lee and members of the community, to really understand their needs, is what informed a lot of the design principles," Douglass says.
Also announced in the release, Plano-based Frito-Lay North America has kicked off project fundraising with an initial corporate seed money donation. The museum reportedly will cost between $25 million and $30 million.
“We are proud to join the journey of the Juneteenth Museum and look forward to its construction in the years to come," says Steven Williams, PepsiCo Foods North America CEO, in a statement.
Lee has dedicated much of her later life to the national recognition of Juneteenth. In 2016, a then-89-year-old launched the annual Opal’s Walk, a two-an-a-half-mile walk that evoked the two-and-a-half years it took for slaves in Texas to learn they were free.
She gathered 1.5 million signatures on a petition to make Juneteenth a federal holiday and was by President Joe Biden's side when it happened last summer.
“Seeing the national museum moving forward is a dream fulfilled," Lee says in the release. "I've had a little Juneteenth Museum in that very spot for almost 20 years, and to see it become a central place for discussion, collaboration, and learning seems to be the providential next step — from my walking campaign to Washington, D.C., the petition, and having Juneteenth declared a federal holiday. It's mind-boggling, but I'm glad to see it all come to pass."
The public can make charitable donations through the The National Juneteenth Museum’s website.