Renovation & Reopening
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) is gearing up for a dazzling 15th-anniversary celebration and a grand reopening weekend from Dec. 1-3, marking 140 years of the impactful Mosaic Templars of America, a trailblazing Black organization founded in 1883 in Little Rock. As Arkansas' first publicly funded museum of African American history and culture, and the third in the South accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, MTCC stands at the forefront of preserving and narrating the rich tapestry of Black history.
After a dramatic history, including a fire during 2005 renovations, the MTCC building has risen from the ashes with a $3.5 million facelift, spotlighting a revamped permanent gallery and cutting-edge technology featuring inter- active exhibits and immersive storytelling. The grand reopening weekend promises to resurrect the lively spirit of the historic Ninth Street neighbor- hood, a once-thriving hub of African American culture where musical legends like Ella Fitzgerald and B.B. King once graced the stage.
The festivities include a star-studded Top 15 Trailblazers Luncheon, a lively Day Party, a glamorous Harlem Nights on 9th gala, and a heartwarming Grand Reopening and Holiday Open House. MTCC Director Quantia "Key" Fletcher anticipates this as a pivotal moment for Arkansas Black history, promising bold and innovative storytelling that will captivate audiences like never before. Get ready to embark on a historical journey—visit MTCC's website to secure your spot for the grand reopening weekend!
How has the MTCC incorporated cutting- edge technology and interactive exhibits into its permanent gallery after the recent $3.5 million renovation? What is the impact on the visitor's experience?
This renovation is entirely focused on the visitor and asks them to contemplate their role in shaping history today by exploring Arkansas history through the lens of the Black experi- ence. Instead of just reading about events
or looking at pictures throughout the years, visitors will step into history using immersive soundscapes, and exhibits they can touch, feel and experience. One of the most remarkable technologies we are bringing to the newly renovated space is Storyfile, where, using A.I.,users can talk directly to key figures in the civil rights movement and more, asking them questions and getting responses in real-time. If you’ve ever dreamed of having a conversation with someone who experienced historical events first-hand, now you can.
Could you elaborate on the significance of the historic Ninth Street neighborhood in Little Rock and how the MTCC plans to bring back its remarkable history during the grand reopening weekend?
Our Grand Reopening Weekend will celebrate 9th street’s past, present and future. This was the heart of Black Little Rock in days gone by, and we believe it can be once again. Our “Harlem Nights on 9th Street” gala will harken back to that heyday, and all the glitz and glamour you imagine that comes with it. But not only that, we are looking ahead to the future of this community as we aim to expand the mission of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center beyond its four walls and into 9th Street.
In what ways does the MTCC aim to reach and engage with the public through its newly renovated exhibits and interactive spaces, as mentioned by Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Director Quantia "Key" Fletcher?
We are reimagining our education and outreach program to bring the important history we preserve here to life. Our Adult Education Coordinator Brian Rodgers and our Education Director Hannah Dorsey will be leading this pro- gramming that adds another layer of depth to the already immersive exhibit, using guided presentations that explore our major themes of culture, community, people, success and survival.
What were some challenges faced on the road to completing this project?
There are always a few bumps in the road, but when you are blazing a new trail, every next step can present new challenges. This project has been in the works for over five years, and it’s a much different world now than when
we started. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people interact with the world and we had to shift our plans accordingly. Not only was that a set-back in terms of moving the project forward on our desired timeline, we also changed aspects of the exhibit to ensure that we can meet people where they are, whether they can physically experience the museum, or if we are meeting them in a virtual space, and how we can use new technology to break down those barriers.