The National Civil Rights Museum, once the Lorraine Motel and location of the assassination of Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr reopened earlier this month on April 5th,the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. King was shot when on April 4, 1968 while standing on the balcony. The location, 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, Tennessee, has since become a historic local and national attraction.
The National Civil Rights Museum, a renowned educational and cultural institution that chronicles the American Civil Rights Movement, has been fully transformed with new and renovated exhibits. The iconic elements have been retained — The Montgomery Bus, the Sit-in counter, the Freedom Rides Bus and the Memphis Sanitation Truck — but they engage the audience with archival films, touch screens and much more interactivity.
What’s new is the creation of immersive environments that vicariously transport visitors back in time. Visitors can crouch into the confined space of the ship in the A Culture of Resistance: Slavery in America 1619 – 1861 exhibit. They can sit in the courtroom and learn of the landmark Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision. They can examine documents and materials used by grassroots organizers during the Mississippi Freedom Summer project in 1964. They can sing along with the protestors from the interior of an Albany, GA church and listen to music and poetry of the Black Power/Black Pride era of the mid 1960s through 1970.
There are 260 artifacts, more than 40 new films (including mini-documentaries highlighting unsung heroes and lesser known leaders of the movement), oral histories and interactive media (multi-touch, multi-user interactives), external listening posts and a contemporary design that will guide visitors through five centuries of history, from the beginning of the culture of resistance during slavery, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, through the rise of Jim Crow, and the seminal events of the late 20th century that inspired people around the world to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.
The renovation updates exhibition content and presents the “best and most recent scholarship on civil rights available today,” as attested to by scholar Dr. Clayborne Carson of Stanford University. Most importantly, it highlights important battles yet to be fought. The new museum will also add more tactile experiences and create a more poignant, powerful and transformative visitor experience.