Museum of the African Diaspora Celebrates Makeover  



San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) is celebrating the completion of its a six-month, $1.3 million makeover at a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring artists, entertainment and community civic leaders Willie Brown and City Administrator Naomi Kelly.

The ribbon-cutting event was held on Dec. 2, and the museum reopened on Dec. 3.

For Brown, one of the major contributors to the creation of MoAD, the ribbon cutting event has even greater significance because MoAD has just become an official affiliate of the renowned Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex.

Brown is a board member the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture that is scheduled to open in Washington, DC in 2016.

“MoAD represents culture, art and a historic legacy for the future,” he said. “I couldn’t be more honored to announce this renovation and the importance of having a state -of the-art museum that represents the global diaspora,” said Brown. “

On exhibit were Drapetomania – Grupo Antillano and the Art of Afro-Cuba, showcasing contemporary works on the human struggle. Drapetomania is also a pseudo-scientific word invented by a 19th Century doctor describing a disease suffered by the enslaved, whose main symptom was an irresistible urge to be free.

Harvard University Director of the Institute of Afro-Latin American Studies Alejandro de la Fuente brought about 50 pieces from a variety of Cuban artists connecting the similarities of struggles of race and equality in the United States.

The exhibit represents a rescue mission in Cuba to honor the memory of forgotten contributors Havana in the 70s and 80s,” said de la Fuente with his wife Patricia Gonzales. “It represents the African Caribbean and Cuban connection and its similarities to the human rights struggles in the United States.”

“We have been in dialogue about bringing this exhibit to the museum for three years. This is a special day for MoAD,” said museum guest curator Lizzetta LeFalle Collins.

Local artist Lava Thomas featured her work in “Lava Thomas: Beyond.” Through a selection of sculptures, photography and mixed media, Thomas explores “the desire to transcend the limits of our bodies.”

“I create art I want to see that speaks to the experience of women in our family, the resilience of women,” said the Los Angeles native who has an art studio in Berkeley.

The museum has three exhibition galleries, a website including the first nine years of MOAD online and the Wells Fargo Heritage Center interactive exhibit featuring IPADS. MoAD’s mobile app will be available before the end of the year.

“MoAD is a beautiful tribute to the African Diaspora and a museum our city should take great pride in,” said San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen.

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