MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The History Museum of Mobile, together with the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC), Mobile County Commission, and the City of Mobile, is pleased to announce Clotilda: The Exhibition.
Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood, Mayor Sandy Stimpson, and City Council President Levon Manzie have announced plans to construct a new, permanent facility, tentatively called the “Africatown Heritage House,” that will house the exhibition.
The Africatown Heritage House will be located on property owned by the City of Mobile, adjacent to the Robert Hope Community Center and Mobile County Training School. The facility, jointly funded by Mobile County Commission and the City of Mobile, is expected to be a 5,000 square foot building. The facility will be a permanent fixture in the Africatown community, and, in years and decades to come, will be functional for a variety of purposes. The facility is expected to be complete in late summer 2020.
In addition to telling the story of the last slave ship, Clotilda: The Exhibition will include over a dozen Clotilda artifacts, recovered from the shipwreck in the Mobile River and on loan from the Alabama Historical Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office.
Drawing on the archaeological reports released by the Alabama Historical Commission, Clotilda: The Exhibition tells the stories of the Clotilda and Africatown in the context of slavery and maritime shipping along the Gulf Coast. It includes the histories of the final journey of the Clotilda, the settlement and history of Africatown, and the discovery of the sunken schooner, all through a combination of interpretive text panels, documents, and artifacts. The History Museum of Mobile will manage operations of the exhibition.
“This exhibition will be a central, physical location for locals and tourists alike to discover the details of this important history,” said Meg McCrummen Fowler, director of the History Museum of Mobile. “Our priority is ensuring that the citizens of Africatown get the full benefit of this exhibition.
The History Museum of Mobile is honored to be offering our staff’s enormous experience with archeology, anthropology, and public history. Ultimately, though, this exhibition is about Africatown telling Africatown’s story.”
The construction of the new facility to house the exhibit has been spearheaded by city and county governments.
“It is so gratifying to see federal, state, and local governments and private industry come together to bring another major asset to the Africatown community,” said Commissioner Ludgood.
“Collaborations like these ensure that we will be able to honor and preserve the memory and legacy of the Clotilda and her descendants for generations to come.”
The exhibition is expected to draw wide interest. “The story of the Clotilda is one of the most important in our history, and now the citizens of Africatown, Mobile, the State, and beyond will be able to learn and explore that history through this exhibition,” said Mayor Stimpson.
“This is an incredible opportunity to share this important story with the world while furthering our efforts to revitalize the Africatown community that already so reflects the resiliency exemplified by the Clotilda,” added Council President Manzie, who represents the area. “I’m proud that we have been able to secure the funding for this facility which will not only be key to telling the story of the Clotilda and Africatown but it will also serve as a place for the community to gather for years to come.”