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The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) opened on September 20, 2008, as the first publicly funded museum of African-American history and culture in Arkansas. The MTCC derives its name from the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), which was at its height one of the largest black fraternal societies in the United States. The museum stands at the corner of 9th Street and Broadway in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the site of the National Headquarters of the Mosaic Templars of America.
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center began with the efforts of a group of Little Rock citizens who worked to save the Mosaic Templars of America headquarters, opened in 1913, from destruction. The group, the Mosaic Templars Preservation Society, wished to rehabilitate the old structure, once one of the most important buildings in Little Rock’s black 9th Street business district. The society, with the help of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus, eventually succeeded in persuading the Arkansas General Assembly to support saving and rehabilitating the building to house a museum of black history, creating the fourth museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. The museum was established as the Mosaic Templars of America Center for African American Culture and Business Enterprise by Act 1176 of 2001 of the Eighty-third Arkansas General Assembly.
Development began in 2002, and the Department of Arkansas Heritage started rehabilitation of the MTA building in 2005. Only two months later, the building was destroyed by fire on March 16, leaving many to fear that the museum would remain unbuilt. However, the state immediately moved forward to construct a new building on the same site. The new building was completed in 2008.
The museum’s mission is to “collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate Arkansas’s African American history, culture, and community from 1870 to the present, and to inform and educate the public about African Americans’ achievements—especially in business, politics, and the arts.” The MTCC has several permanent exhibits featuring the history of the MTA, the 9th Street business district, and notable black Arkansans. It also houses the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame on the third floor, as well as a facsimile of the original MTA ballroom, a historic community space for the 9th Street district. The museum hosts a variety of traveling exhibits to educate citizens about black history and culture in Arkansas and throughout the United States. The collections department actively seeks artifacts to preserve the history of black Arkansans through research and original exhibits.
In addition to its exhibits, the museum provides educational outreach across Arkansas, traveling to all corners of the state to provide unique black history lessons to Arkansas students of all ages. The museum also hosts many adult and community programs and events throughout the year, most notably Juneteenth, a celebration of emancipation from slavery.
For additional information:Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. http://www.mosaictemplarscenter.com (accessed July 2, 2013).
Williams, L. Lamor. “Mosaic Templars Building Reopens.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 21, 2008, pp. 1B, 5B.
Julie McVeyMosaic Templars Cultural Center
Last Updated 9/11/2013
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