Black theatre museum proposed to take over former Brooks Museum

Black theatre museum proposed to take over former Brooks Museum
Published: Dec. 20, 2017 at 9:16 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2017 at 11:04 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Change is coming to Overton Park.

With the College of Art closing and the Brooks Museum moving out, many are wondering what will fill the empty spaces.

For more than 100 years the Brooks Museum stood in Overton Park, but in September its leaders announced they planned to leave.

"The history and achievements of black theatre deserve a marble building," said Ekundayo Bandele, founder of Hattiloo Theatre.

Over the next three months, the city will take proposals on what could fill that void.

One of the intriguing ideas is turning the building into Bandele's brainchild, the National Black Theatre Museum.

"Every city and every person in this city wants something that's number one," Bandele said. "We want the Grizzlies to be number one. The Tigers to be number one. Well, when it comes to black theatre, we can be number one."

The museum will help honor the past with an eye on the future.

"We will have touchscreens, virtual reality, interactive," Bandele said.

Though no firm plans have been made, the museum could collaborate with Rhodes College and national organizations--the price tag on the project at this point unclear.

Both Bandele and the National Civil Rights Museum say the museum will pay tourism dividends.

"This museum really offers an opportunity for folks to come from all over," said Faith Morris with National Civil Rights Museum. "Folks that do have an appreciation for black art."

Bandele expects to know by next May whether the city has accepted his proposal.

"You want something majestic and black theatre has always been majestic," Bandele said.

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