International African American Museum set to break ground early next year after $11 million pledge

The latest donation rounds out the state's $25 million commitment

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Designs for the International African American Museum at Gadsden's Wharf - PROVIDED
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  • Designs for the International African American Museum at Gadsden's Wharf
Charleston's International African American Museum will break ground early next year after the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority voted to donate $11 million to the museum this week.

The donation completes the state's $25 million commitment. State lawmakers previously allocated $14 million for the project, but withheld the funding until another $25 million in private donations were fully committed.

Currently, the museum is less than $1 million from that goal.



Most recently, the museum announced a $500,000 contribution from the Texas-based Fluor Foundation, $250,000 from Greenville-based ScanSource, and $1 million from BMW.

Another $25 million will come from Charleston County and the City of Charleston, which has also pitched in land for the project, bringing the total fundraising effort to $75 million.

The Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority was established to acquire the former Charleston Naval Base Complex in North Charleston from the U.S. Navy, according to their website. In 2014, the Authority took on the task of building a museum to house the H.L. Hunley, a Confederate submarine that sunk while on a mission to attack a U.S. Navy ship in 1864.

"We are deeply grateful to the RDA for its commitment to the International African American Museum," former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said in a statement Tuesday.

According to Riley — who served as mayor for 40 years and proposed the museum during his inaugural address in 2000 — members of the state legislature encouraged the museum's board to look to other state entities for funding.

"With that encouragement and support, we approached the RDA, which unanimously approved the $11 million funding allocation today, concluding the $25 million share committed by the state of South Carolina," he added.

The IAAM is set to open at Gadsden's Wharf, where 48.1 percent of all enslaved Africans brought to the United States arrived and waited to be sold.

The firms Moody Nolan and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners designed the museum's building, and the city will oversee its construction.

"There will be ongoing needs for operating and programming, and I believe the museum will continue raising funds for those purposes once the Founders Fund is complete," said museum spokesperson Alexa Asendorf.

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