African Art Museum of Maryland Plans Move To Long Reach Village Center
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball held a lease signing ceremony yesterday with The African Art Museum of Maryland (AAMM), as it plans to relocate to Long Reach Village Center, in Columbia. The museum, entering an historic 40th year, is one of three in the United States focused exclusively on African art and was founded by Doris Ligon in 1980.
“As an institution that encourages a better understanding of African cultures and embodies both diversity and commitment to learning, we’re excited to welcome AAMM to Long Reach Village Center as the museum celebrates its 40th anniversary” said Howard County Executive Ball. “We’re hoping this new location will encourage more visitors to the museum and aid in Long Reach Rising as the Village Center, again, becomes a premier hub for the arts, STEM, and entrepreneurism.”
The museum was previously located in the Historic Oakland Manor before its move to Fulton in 2011. AAMM returns to Columbia with a three-year lease, joining the Columbia Arts Center and the Stonehouse Community Center at Long Reach, Columbia’s largest Village Center. The museum expects to move in the next two months to the 1,400 square foot space, a welcome expansion from its current 900 square feet.
“I am thrilled that the African Art Museum of Maryland is coming to the Long Reach Village Center,” said Council Member Opel Jones. “As only one of three museums of its kind in the United States, it is an honor to have such an auspicious institution in Howard County.”
“We’re absolutely delighted to be moving into a larger space at the Long Reach Village Center,” said Doris Ligon, Director of The African Art Museum of Maryland. “We are excited about the revitalization and believe it can become a cultural center with us, the Columbia Art Center and the Stonehouse.”
The Long Reach Village Center was built in the late 1970s and is widely used by the neighborhood residents to meet a variety of office and commercial needs. Prior to the center even opening, residents of Long Reach gathered for a village meeting and voted for arts and crafts as the prevailing theme for the village center. Since 2014, Howard County has established this area as an “Urban Renewal Area.” Until earlier this year, Howard County had a redevelopment agreement with Orchard Development to redevelop the site as a mixed-use development, but the company was not able to perform the contract due to site acquisition problems.
Since then, RKG Associates was contracted by Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning to provide economic consulting services related to the rehabilitation and reactivation of the Long Reach Village Center utilizing a community-based re-tenanting strategy. Beginning in July, the County worked on exterior building and site restoration, including, power washing of building walls and soffits; repair of trim and soffits; painting of steel columns; restoration of all exterior lighting and painting and repair of light poles; power washing sidewalks, painting of parking lot striping, curbs and steel bollards; repair of storm drains; cleaning of courtyard drains; trimming of trees, bushes and weeds; and prepared the retail and office space for immediate leasing to a combination of non-profits and other users that are community oriented. This momentous move is a giant leap for the arts in Columbia.
This sound like good news…especially after my article back on January 4th “Howard County Delegation Bond Initiative would provide funding for commercial kitchen stations in Long Reach Village Center” especially where I was less than optimistic about the future of that village center.
I hope we get more announcements like this in the future.