The California African American Museum (CAAM) in Exposition Park has recently reopened after a year-long closure. Along with its reopening, the museum has introduced impressive upgrades to its building and five new exhibitions. These changes mark a significant milestone in the museum’s ongoing mission to showcase and celebrate Black experiences and art. Let’s delve into the highlights of these developments and what they mean for both the museum and the community it serves.
1. The New Public Sculpture:
Outside the California African American Museum, visitors will find a captivating new public sculpture created by conceptual artist Chloë Bass. Comprising 16 tinted glass panels set in steel, the sculpture forms an analemmatic sundial based on photographs of the sky. As visitors cast shadows on the panels throughout the day, snippets of text etched into the glass emerge, creating a visually stunning and thought-provoking experience.
2. Building Upgrades:
To enhance the museum experience, CAAM has invested in significant building upgrades. These include a new HVAC system, refinished floors, a new roof, and weatherproofed glass ceiling panels in the atrium. These improvements ensure a better visitor experience and make the museum an ideal gathering and learning place for the community.
3. A Rethought Vision:
Under the leadership of CAAM Executive Director Cameron Shaw, the museum has undergone a process of reevaluation and reimagining. Shaw has taken the opportunity to shape the museum’s vision and expand its scope. She has implemented four guiding pillars to steer the development of exhibitions and public programming, focusing on Black abstraction, Black lives and green justice, liberating the Black archive, and spirituality and ancestral technologies. These pillars reflect a commitment to depth and cultural engagement.
4. Engaging Exhibitions:
The reopening of CAAM brings forth five new exhibitions that cover a spectrum of themes and mediums. “A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration” showcases contemporary commissions by renowned artists who explore the impact and meaning of the Great Migration. “Black California Dreamin’: Claiming Space at America’s Leisure Frontier” and “We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California” delve into the history and experiences of Black Californians. Additionally, a short film titled “Keeping Time” uncovers the collective rhythm of a jazz group, while artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s mural, “Speaking to Falling Seeds,” dominates the museum’s atrium.
5. A Community Hub:
CAAM aims to become a sought-after venue for traveling exhibitions while maintaining a strong connection with its local community. The upgraded facilities will enable the museum to host ambitious and complex exhibitions while continuing to engage and excite diverse audiences. The museum’s commitment to centering Black voices and addressing issues vital to the community’s everyday lives positions it as an inclusive and transformative space.
The reopening of the California African American Museum signifies a new chapter for the institution and its ongoing mission to celebrate Black experiences and art. With upgraded facilities, thought-provoking exhibitions, and a reimagined vision, CAAM stands ready to welcome a diverse range of visitors. By creating spaces that prompt conversation and reflection, CAAM continues to play a vital role in the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.