The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with a grand reopening weekend on Dec. 1-3 after renovations. The three-day event also marks 140 years of the Mosaic Templars of America, a Black organization founded in Little Rock in 1883, with a celebration of Black history and culture.
MTCC is the first publicly funded museum of African American history and culture in Arkansas and is the third Black history institution in the South to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
“Since its founding, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center has been dedicated to telling the story of Arkansas’ African American history,” says Marty Ryall, director of the Division of Arkansas Heritage. “The museum was founded not only to preserve the Mosaic Templars of America building in Little Rock, but also to establish a place where people can learn about Black history and culture in Arkansas.”
The MTCC building, which was built from 1911 to 1913 and sits on the corner of Ninth and Broadway streets in downtown Little Rock, was destroyed by a fire during renovations in 2005. Now, after years of progress and a $3.5 million renovation, the building has been faithfully recreated and is ready to reopen its newest elements. Recent renovations focused on the museum’s permanent gallery as well as bringing cutting-edge technology to the museum with interactive exhibits and immersive storytelling.
In 2018, Soirée covered the history of the MTCC at its 10th anniversary and historic Ninth Street, which was a neighborhood unlike any other in Little Rock, writing:
“The center of African American culture and commerce at the turn of the 20th century, the street throbbed with life at any time of the day. African-American-owned grocery stores, barber and beauty shops and music halls drew fellow blacks from across the city to shop, socialize and revel in their community. Ella Fitzgerald performed here, as did B.B. King and other musical luminaries, each followed the next Sunday morning by the soaring sounds of worship from the district’s churches.”
The neighborhood’s remarkable history will be brought back to life during the grand reopening weekend at the MTCC. A Top 15 Trailblazers Luncheon will kick off the weekend of celebrations on Friday, Dec. 1, at 11 a.m., followed by a Day Party from 2:30-6 p.m. The luncheon will honor 15 trailblazers of Arkansas Black history and culture who embody the spirit of the Mosaic Templars Building Preservation Society (MTBPS) and its efforts to preserve African American history in Arkansas.
On Saturday, Dec. 2, from 7-10 p.m., a special Harlem Nights on 9th Gala will invite guests to experience the historic neighborhood as it was in its heyday, a thriving Black community in the heart of the city. Here, guests will get a first look at the brand-new exhibit and interactive space while enjoying traditional soul food dishes from Jacinda Jones and cocktails from Aretha’s Beverages. The evening will include a casino night with games, fun and sultry jazz and R&B music by Pinky, Twanna Campbell and Bijoux.
To close the weekend, a Grand Reopening and Holiday Open House party will be held on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 1-5 p.m. This event is free and open to the public and will include photos with Black Santa, holiday music and an official ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by tours of the newly renovated $3.5 million exhibit.
“This is a pivotal moment for Arkansas Black history,” says Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Director Quantia “Key” Fletcher. “This transformation will allow our stories to be told in bold and innovative ways, and we will reach people like never before. What we are building here is unlike anything else in the world, and this is just the beginning.”
For more information about the MTCC or to register for the Grand Reopening Weekend celebrations, click here.
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