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It’s Official! Edwards’ Cultural Museum of African Art



by Lynda Hamilton
On Saturday, July 31st at 12:00 pm an Event was held to Announce a $1 Million Gift from NYS Assembly to the Cultural Museum of African Art (CMAA). This event took place at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Center (BSRC) in Brooklyn which will serve as the new home of CMAA.

Nearly 70 people gathered in a sun-filled room where a $1 million check was presented by NYS Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie and the Honorable Stefani Zinerman, Assemblymember representing the 56th District to Mr. Eric Edwards, Founder and Executive Director of the Cultural Museum of African Art (CMAA).

Visionaries and Builders: World-class architect Rodney Leon, Brooklyn-born and raised, was tapped to design the home for Eric Edwards’ CMAA collection, and attended the July 31 CMAA million-dollar check-giving event. In this 2007 photo, Leon, right, stands with the late esteemed scholar Elombe Brath, on the sacred grounds of the African Burial Ground Memorial — for which the architect helmed the entire design-build. Mr. Leon, founder/principal, Rodney Leon Architects PLLC, is an advocate for the philosophy of Cultural Contextual — contemporary design which integrates culture and history into the making of architecture and public space. (Photo: BMatthews; Caption: BGreen, Legacy)

Restoration Plaza sits at the center of African Culture in Brooklyn. World-renowned architect, Rodney Leon, who will design the CMAA at BSRC, spoke about the many values this museum will bring as the newest cultural member of Restoration Plaza. Anatolio Mba, Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea and longtime supporter of CMAA, highlighted the important role that stories of origin carry as the world moves forward during his remarks. Both Jerry Kansis-Kwabena, Brooklyn Ambassador from the office of the Brooklyn Borough President, and Lee Church, representing US Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, expressed their gratitude that CMAA will have a powerful presence in the community as it welcomes young people through its doors over the course of any given day. Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer also provided resounding words of congratulations and support for CMAA via video recording.

Hon. Robert E. Cornegy Jr., City Council Member, 36th District; Therese Tembiwale Tommo, Ambassador, Cameroon; Diane Richardson, NYS Assemblymember; Al Vann, former Assembly member; and The Reverend Dr. Herbert D. Daughtry; were all also in attendance among the crowd of supporters.

In partnership with CMAA’s physical exhibition at BSRC, team members from MASK Consortium treated attendees to interactive examples of how the new installation, which will be called “Survival Exhibition,” will be the first-of-its-kind, interactive and immersive, 3-dimensional, VR museum. Various artifacts were on display at the event, which will be curated for the new exhibition by the multidisciplinary artist, Sanford Biggers and Eric Edwards.

“This grant makes it possible for me to gift this collection of African artifacts, which has taken me 50 years to amass, to my community. The collection illuminates our stories and journeys over thousands of years to the beginnings of man and womankind.”
– Eric Edwards, Founder and Executive Director, Cultural Museum of African Art

“The historic 56th District is a global destination for art and culture. We are home to the AUDELCO and Obie Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre in Bedford Stuyvesant and the Weeksville Heritage Center in Crown Heights. Therefore, it is only fitting that after years of searching, the Eric Edwards Collection will finally become an integral part of our artistic landscape. Mr. Edwards’ commitment to the preservation of African art, its history, and its cultural legacy is unparalleled. I am deeply honored to provide foundational support for the Cultural Museum of African Art at Restoration Plaza.”- Stefani L. Zinerman, 56th District, New York State Assembly

Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba, Permanent Representative of Equatorial New Guinea to the UN.

“The preservation of history, specifically African American history, has often times been over- looked. Investments like these ensure that African art and its rich history can be studied and enjoyed by future generations. I am honored to have worked with Assemblywoman Zinerman to make this grant available to the Cultural Museum of African Art (CMAA), and would like to thank CMAA for their efforts in keeping our legacy alive.” – Carl E. Heastie, New York State Assembly Speaker.

Curated by Mr. Eric Edwards over the course of 50 years, CMAA has amassed more than 3,000 African Artifacts, from all 54 countries on the African continent, spanning more than 4,000 years of human history. The CMAA at Restoration Plaza will display nearly 220 of its artifacts.

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