After being closed for more than a year, the country’s oldest independent African American history museum is preparing to reopen to the public.
Doors will reopen on what is now a federal and state holiday; Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery.
After being closed for nearly 15 months, Perri Irmer, the CEO of the museum, says she’s excited to welcome back visitors after a "tough" year for the city.
"We thought, what more suitable day, the black Independence Day, to do our reopening," said Perri. "[It] signals resilience."
Irmer says the museum laid off many staff members and will limit hours of operation but will keep admission free through the end of June.
Irmer hopes to shine a light on the positives of African American history, not just the dark past. She says a new exhibit will open later this year, showing the true origin of African American culture.
"They are stories of excellence and resilience and pride," said Irmer. "They’re not just negative stories that our youth is bombarded with on a nightly basis on the news."
Saturday’s grand reopening and Juneteenth celebration will take place on the front lawn of the museum.
Special guests include Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, among others.
A black history monument is expected to be unveiled in the afternoon followed by a block party behind the museum which starts at 3 p.m.
Those who wish to attend can RSVP on the museum’s website by clicking here.