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Dr. Jacqueline Brown stands next to rendering of the museum’s new facility.

The Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center in North Brentwood, Md. experienced financial problems a few years ago, almost to the point of closing its doors, however, the museum was able to overcome with the aid of a savvy business plan and federal funds to preserve the history of the town’s Black residents.

The center is currently planning to build an addition to its current facility.

“The board decided that we were going to live, that we were not going to rollover and shut the doors,” Dr. Jacqueline Brown, executive director of the center told the AFRO Oct. 11 after a blessing ceremony for the site of the new building.

The new facility will be two stories high and 10,000 square feet. It will house a gallery, a black box theatre, classrooms, and meeting space.

“Every space becomes something else,” Brown said. “Everything is multiuse.” She said she expects to open the doors of the new facility in May of 2016.

The center is currently featuring a small historical exhibit of the town’s Black history. North Brentwood is the oldest Black township in Prince George’s County, Md.

Reasa Oliver, a former intern for the center, looks at Ulysses Marshall’s painting titled: Many Rivers to Cross.

The center has been trying to get a museum built for the last 18 years, renting gallery space in nearby areas until recently, when it experienced a lapse in funds and had to sell a majority of the 3.418 acres it owned.

According to Brown, the state gave $300,000 to help the center with operational funds and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) worked to get them the funds they needed for the new facility.

Even though, the center has received financial assistance from the government to remain operational and funds have been allocated to build a new facility, crews have not yet begun construction. Brown said construction will begin when the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission releases the funds.

According to Brown, a meeting, between the commission and the center, to decide how to release the funds has been scheduled to occur in November.

William Shelton, president of the center’s Board of Directors told a tent full of participants, including politicians, clergymen and community residents, “We have a history which should be preserved through education, works of art and the collaboration efforts of all from local, regional, national and international communities.”

Shelton said the museum strives to teach children the town’s history, so that they have a better appreciation and understanding. “We have a Prince George’s story to tell,” he said.

The center was also contracted to provide a Culture Keepers program to students from 15 schools in the Prince George’s County Public Schools System.

“Since its inception the center has been true to its mission to inspire the community through its cultivation, preservation and presentation of the cultural and artistic contributions of African Americans in Prince George’s County, Md.,” Mikulski said in a letter that was read at the blessing ceremony.

“Our fellow arts programs help to ensure that the arts remain one of our most enduring institutions,” she continued.