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International African American Museum reaches topping-out milestone

Staff Report //July 10, 2020//

International African American Museum reaches topping-out milestone

Staff Report //July 10, 2020//

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The day before the topping-out ceremony, supporters of the International African American Museum were invited to sign the beam that was lifted to the top of the structure set to open in 2022. (Photo/Beverly Barfield)

A steel beam with signatures of supporters and community leaders was lifted to the top of the International African American Museum this morning in a topping-out ceremony near Gadsden’s Wharf.

This significant milestone indicates the project is nearing completion of the structure of the building. The 41,760-square-foot, elevated museum is set to open in 2022.

Signatures fill the topping-out beam, which has an American flag on one end and a small tree on the other. (Photo/Beverly Barfield)A groundbreaking for the museum took place in late 2019 after individuals, foundations, corporate donors and government entities poured millions of dollars into the project. But the museum has taken more than two decades to get this far. In 2000, then-Mayor Joe Riley first mentioned the museum in his State of the City address. Since then, more than 1,000 donations have been received for the project.

RELATED: See our special section from the groundbreaking.

The International African American Museum will illuminate the story of enslaved Africans’ journey from West Africa to Charleston, the hardship and cruelty they endured, plus their contributions to America, the museum said in a news release.

The museum and a memorial garden will honor the site where those enslaved Africans arrived in Charleston, and where thousands died; tell narratives that have been overlooked in most history books; and promote compassion and empathy across all races and ethnicities, the museum said.

Cumming has been working with Atlantic South Consulting to provide construction management and consulting services for the project.

“It has been a solemn journey seeing this project continue to come to fruition, and once it is completed, the city of Charleston will be able to share this global landmark to help foster empathy, understanding and empowerment,” Jonathan Roberts, project manager at Cumming, said in a news release.

Brownstone Construction Group is working with Turner Construction to build the structure of the IAAM. Moody Nolan and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners worked on the design of the building and the museum.

At the groundbreaking in October, Riley said the museum will be a place of stories that will challenge the United States as a country to understand its story in a way that has never been told.

“The stories will enlighten us, help us, change us and challenge our country, for that hidden vault is finally and forever unlocked,” Riley said. “We will now know for the first time our complete history, your history, your story — the truth. And we must believe that it is the truth that will set us free.”