Great Blacks in Wax Museum

Behind the Scenes

January 03, 1999|By Karin Remesch

Mission: To stimulate an interest in African-American history by revealing the often-neglected facts of history; to use great leaders as role models to motivate youth; to improve race relations by dispelling myths of racial inferiority; and to support and work in conjunction with other nonprofit, charitable organizations seeking to improve the social and economic status of African-Americans. The museum - the first wax museum in Baltimore and the first in the nation dedicated to African-Americans - was established in 1983 by Drs. Elmer and Joanne Martin. The museum is home to 135 life-size, lifelike wax figures of historical and contemporary personalities of African ancestry.

Latest accomplishment: The purchase of 15 additional buildings in the 1600 block of E. North Ave. for museum expansion. A permanent exhibit, ``The Struggle Against Lynching: Lessons for Today,'' opened in February. And this past summer, a new wax figure of Mary Mahoney, the first professional black nurse, was unveiled.

On the horizon: Renovation of recently purchased buildings to provide additional exhibit space in ``theme'' galleries. Jan. 18 through Feb. 28, the museum will offer ``Letters of Love and Hate to Martin Luther King Jr.''

About the museum: Membership: 2,500. Attendance: 175,000 annually. Operating budget: $610,000.

Where and when: 1601-03 E. North Ave. Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Call 410-563-3404.

Dr. Elmer P. Martin, president, board of trustees: ``As the ... founders, my wife Joanne and I are extremely proud of the Great Blacks in Wax Museum and of the progressive strides we are taking in all aspects of the museum business. We recognize clearly that there remains much work for us to be done as we continue to build upon past successes. Although we endure the same challenges as most small nonprofit museums, our greatest need is funding to strengthen current exhibits and programs. ... I am happy to be part of a team which will not cease to work collectively and creatively to insure the museum's continued growth and development as it seeks to serve the community and enrich the cultural life of Baltimore

and the nation.''

Members of the board

Naimah Ezigbo

James Johnson

Shirley Kane

Delores G. Kelley

Joanne M. Martin

Dr. Delores Maxwell

Lisa Monroe

Kamau Nataki

Osborne Payne

Richard Rowe

Judy Saunders

Richard A. White

Jesse Williams

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