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Monument to a magnate.

Baltimore is now the home of the Reginald E Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture (RFL Museum). Grand opening ceremonies were held on Saturday, June 25, 2005. The museum, the largest of its kind on the East Coast, serves as a gateway to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the city's primary tourist attraction.

Lewis, who was born in Baltimore in 1942 and died in 1993, was the first African American to own a Fortune 500 corporation, TLC Beatrice Foods International. (He wrote an autobiography Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire, with Blair S. Walker, published by John Wiley & Sons, October 1994.)

The breathtaking, 82,000-square-foot facility features 15,000 square feet of permanent and special exhibition space; interactive learning environments; an auditorium; a resource center; an oral history recording studio; a museum shop; a cafe; classrooms (including a distance-learning center provided by Verizon Communications); meeting rooms; an outside terrace and reception areas.

The opening special exhibition, "A Slave Ship Speaks: The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie," is on view until January 8, 2006. The ship, explored by the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, is considered the world's largest source of artifacts from the early Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and one of the most significant archeological discoveries of the 20th century. [Its discovery was documented in The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie: An African American's Spiritual Journey to Uncover a Sunken Slave Ship's Past, by Michael Cottman, Crown, December 1998.]

The most visually striking and symbolically important element of the new museum is the Red Wall of Freedom, a 96-feet-high curving surface that symbolizes creativity, character and the indomitable spirit of the Africans and their descendants.

One of the primary goals of the RFL Museum is to provide educational programs for children and adults. Through their partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, the museum has developed a signature curriculum, "An African American Journey," and teacher training to reach more than 850,000 students and 50,000 teachers. The pilot program began in the fall of 2004 with students in grades 4 to 8.

Hours for the RFL Museum are Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. The museum is closed on Mondays and certain holidays. For additional information, contact the museum at 443-263-1800 or view its Web site at www.AfricanAmericanCulture.org.
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Title Annotation:Reginald E Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture
Author:Green, Robin
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Geographic Code:1U5MD
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:398
Previous Article:For Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis.
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