Case Study: Dabls' MBAD African Bead Museum: Townhouse Renovation
"For the first time in 17 years we will have a space where we can engage the community through storytelling programs and also make that space available to the people who need a gathering space"
For nearly two decades the Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum has served as a cultural diamond in the City of Detroit, providing a year round outdoor and indoor exhibition of African artwork, history, and material culture. Led by curator and artist Olayami Dabls, the MBAD African Bead Museum was developed on a blighted and scrap filled piece of land transforming the space and its adjacent historic row-houses into an outdoor public art installation and row-houses bead museum.
The organizers of the museum planned to expand their impact and renovate the decaying townhouses into an immersive public gathering space while providing a space for free rotating exhibitions of African material culture. They worked with Allied Media Projects, LOHA Architects, and Brown Schroeder & Co. to come up with a plan for the renovation of the townhouses that would include exhibition space, a community kitchen, outdoor courtyard, and archival and residency space for public gatherings and events.
At the end of 2017, the Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum launched this effort through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Public Spaces Community Places crowdgranting program to transform the decrepit townhouses into accessible public gathering space. After successfully crowdfunding over 23% above their $50,000 goal, they secured the matching funds from the MEDC and were able to start construction and expansion.
“For the first time in 17 years we will have a space where we can engage the community through storytelling programs and also make that space available to the people who need a gathering space. With this new space we can have short run exhibitions, plan workshops for the community, and engage the local community. This adds a whole new dimension to our plans for the future.” - Olayami Dabls, Curator and Artist
The museum and its partners were able to create a gathering and exhibition space for year round programming in the third townhouse, as well as create an outdoor gathering space in between the corner building and the bead museum that will be used as spill out space for events and small outdoor exhibitions. The restoration effort has transformed a derelict, underutilized storage space into a 600 sq.ft. light-filled gallery and community gathering space. The new additions will allow public access to free rotating exhibitions of African material culture from Dabls' extensive collection of beads and artifacts, as well as works by artists and collaborators from Detroit and beyond. The renovation additionally provides a much-needed public restroom for the Bead Museum, as well as new windows, heating, and electrical systems.
“We see urban renewal as not just broad strokes -- big plans with big ideas -- but as a series of small interventions that deliver something far larger than the blocks they occupy. Ever more, the Bead Museum is being recognized as an example of how neighborhoods can be strengthened around existing landmarks, and how the spirit of advocacy and stewardship of artists such as Dabls, can be a model which extends to other parts of the city.” - Lorcan O’Herlihy
- Project: Dabls' MBAD African Bead Museum: Townhouse Renovation
- Project Type: Public Art, Community Centers and Venues, Education
- Project Location: Detroit, Michigan
- Crowdfunding Raise: $61,701
- Crowdgranting Match: $50,000
- Patrons: 101
- Leveraged Funding: $150,000
- Total Project Estimate: $250,000
"We're thrilled to celebrate the completion of the townhouse renovation. This vital update to the building will allow the Bead Museum to continue its work of uplifting local culture and artistry, and reinforce national and local exchanges of creativity in the city of Detroit.”- Toni Moceri, sponsored projects program director of Allied Media Projects
About Public Spaces Community Places
Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) is our crowdgranting partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). This crowdgranting initiative provides matching grant funds to eligible projects that improve public space in the state of Michigan. Projects can receive a matching grant of up to $50,000 if they reach their crowdfunding goal.