AANM launches 10th anniversary celebration

Photo by Zeinab Najm The opening of the new Arab American National Museum Annex facility was celebrated with a ribbon cutting March 27. Joining in the festivities are ACCESS Chief Operating Officer Lina Harajli (left), AANM Advisory Board Chairwoman Manal Saab, AANM Director Devon Akmon, Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., AANM Advisory Board Co-chairman Ismael Ahmed, and AANM Founding Director Anan Ameri.

Photo by Zeinab Najm. The opening of the new Arab American National Museum Annex facility was celebrated with a ribbon cutting March 27. Joining in the festivities are ACCESS Chief Operating Officer Lina Harajli (left), AANM Advisory Board Chairwoman Manal Saab, AANM Director Devon Akmon, Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., AANM Advisory Board Co-chairman Ismael Ahmed, and AANM Founding Director Anan Ameri.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The Arab American National Museum launched its 10th anniversary celebration with the opening of the annex to the east of the museum.

The new 4,700-square-foot annex will begin by hosting the global music series this year. The annex includes new sound and projection systems along with a movable stage and seating.

It will serve as a flexible space for activities, concerts and youth programs along with artwork, music or visual arts or performing arts and educational and cultural programs.

“The annex being a separate cultural institution that’s part of the museum allows us to rethink opportunities, how we work with the community, how we collaborate and how we can help support those kinds of endeavors,” AANM Director Devon Akmon said.

The idea for expanding the museum wasn’t a new one, it’s been in the works since the museum first opened in 2005 as a project with ACCESS.

“There wasn’t room to grow at the time so we began to acquire the first of the buildings in 2008 and the second one we acquired a few years later.” Akmon said. “We began to renovate and rebuild about a year and a half ago.”

The last few months have been spent adding and moving artwork and programs to the new space in preparation for the launch.

Since its opening, the AANM’’s mission has been to document, preserve, present the history, culture and contributions of Arab Americans.

The AANM is the first and only museum in the country committed to the Arab American history and culture. Its exhibits bring the experiences of immigrants and ethnic groups to mainstream audiences.

Photographs, artifacts, paintings, artwork and events help the museum tell the stories of Arab Americans all over the world.

“This is a community-based museum that was built and contributed to by Arab Americans from across the country,” Akmon said.

With the 10th anniversary coming up in May the museum is taking time to reflect and toward the future.

“It’s something that both our community and staff are incredibility proud of,” Akmon said. “Our 10-year anniversary is really commemorating that hard work and celebrating that and giving us an opportunity to think big and bold about the future.”

The museum will celebrate their anniversary starting in May with multiple exhibitions and events throughout the year.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at znajm@bewickpublications.com.)

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