Aug 12, 2022 - News

New digs for African American museum

The Family Court Building located at 1801 Vine St.
The Family Court Building located at 1801 Vine St. Photo: Alexa Mencia/Axios

The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is moving to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Driving the news: The city revealed Thursday that it will redevelop the massive, long-vacant classical building known as the Family Court Building on the Parkway at 1801 Vine St., which will house the African American museum and other tenants.

  • The city also will expand the Parkway Central Library by redeveloping the 88,000-square-foot parking lot that sits behind it at 1901 Wood St.

Zoom in: Four firms were recently selected to redevelop both city-owned sites.

  • The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), the nonprofit founded by the city and The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, is managing the development process.

The intrigue: No budget is set for the projects yet and future ownership of the sites will be determined as part of the development proposal process, Jessica Calter, a PIDC spokesperson, told Axios.

A rendering of Logan Square where two properties will be redeveloped.
A rendering of the Logan Square neighborhood highlighting where the parking lot at 1901 Wood St., left, and Family Court Building, right, are located. Photo courtesy of the City of Philadelphia

Details: The Family Court Building has more than 247,000 square feet and looks out onto Logan Square.

  • The building is a twin of the Free Library of Philadelphia and is located among other cultural institutions, including The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and The Franklin Institute.

Plus: The Parkway Central Library development is expected to add a 60,000-square-foot children and family center, auditorium, offices and more, according to the city.

What they're saying: Ashley Jordan, AAMP president, said the move to the Parkway would boost the museum's visibility, and as much as triple the museum's current gallery, theater and other programming space.

  • She hoped the change of venue would help make Philly a destination site for African American history and culture.
  • "It's a turning point in our history," she told Axios.

Of note: The nonprofit AAMP was founded in 1976 during the nation's bicentennial and was funded and built by the city.

What's next: PIDC is expected to release a request for proposals later this month for the projects, with proposals due from the firms at the end of the year.

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