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A Black history museum will be coming to Tampa

A church with a tree and two signs in front of it.
Aileyahu Shanes
The Historic Saint James Church at Encore will be the home of Tampa's Black History Museum.

The new museum will highlight the history of predominantly African American Tampa communities, as well as the leaders within them.

Tampa is getting a new museum, and it will teach about the city’s Black history.

Tampa's Black History Museum will be located in the Historic Saint James Church at Encore, right across from Perry Harvey Sr. Park.

READ MORE: Artist restores vandalized Black history murals at Perry Harvey Park

Former slaves called the area home after the Civil War, and it became known as “The Scrub.”

The church sits at the heart of Central Avenue, where Black-owned businesses and entertainment once thrived.

The museum will highlight the history of "The Scrub" and other historically African American Tampa communities, as well as the leaders within them.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Gwen Myers spoke at a celebration on Monday unveiling the museum. She said it's a great opportunity for Black people to share their history.

"The good part about it is you have the opportunity to come to one place,” Myers said, “and you can still have a rich story, a story that is told by African Americans."

Three women look at a picture
Aileyahu Shanes
The museum will offer physical and augmented reality exhibits.

The Tampa Bay History Center and the Tampa Housing Authority are collaborating to create the museum.

The plan is still in its early stages, but the Tampa Bay History Center is looking for input and artifacts from the community.

“It's going to be amazing, I can tell you that,” said Fred Hearns, the center's curator of Black history. “There will be something for everyone. We are going to make sure that young people, as well as not-so-young people, enjoy coming to this museum."

He said the museum will also have exhibits featuring augmented reality using smartphones.

“We can expand beyond the four walls that you see here today,” Hearns said.

Tampa Bay History Center officials say the museum should be complete in about 18 months.

The cost to restore the church was just over $2 million, according to an official at the museum’s unveiling. Most of the money came from federal dollars and grants from Tampa’s Historic Preservation Society.

A group of people stand next to a podium.
Aileyahu Shanes
The museum is being built through a collaboration between The Tampa Bay History Center and The Tampa Housing Authority.

Aileyahu Shanes is a WUSF Rush Family Radio News intern for the summer of 2024.