NAPAC museum partially open

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 19, 1999

After several months of planning, fund raising and renovations, the Museum of African-American History and Culture opened its first phase Sept. 11 in the old post office building on Main Street.

The museum is being organized and operated by the Natchez Association for the Preservation of African-American Culture.

Although hardly any publicity surrounded the opening, almost 30 people have visited to take in exhibits showing what the civil rights struggle and church and school life were like for black Natchez residents of the past.

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Among them were Fred and Shirley Jones of Baton Rouge and children Stephanique, 13, and Fred Jr., 6, who visited the museum Sunday.

&uot;We brought our children here so they could appreciate what today’s living is like compared to how people used to live,&uot;&160;Shirley Jones said.

Other exhibits displayed in the first phase – the building’s renovated front and side corridor – include photographs of black Natchezians and items from the 1940 Rhythm Nightclub fire.

In about three weeks, museum organizers hope to have a better idea of what the museum’s permanent hours and staffing schedule will be, said NAPAC board member Shirley Wheatley.

Meanwhile, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 and from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. A date for the museum’s grand opening has not been set, said NAPAC’s president, the Rev. Charles Bartley.

The museum was located in the old Natchez waterworks building until the facility was damaged by a severe storm in February 1998.

NAPAC spent more than 16 months renovating the first phase of the museum in its new location.

The work was done with the help of a grant of more than $100,000 from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Next, the NAPAC will refurbish the auditorium and downstairs areas, although NAPAC’s board has not yet set a timetable or located the funding.