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Levine Museum of the New South selling uptown Charlotte facility, embarking on digital transformation

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 2:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Levine Museum of the New South, a museum with exhibits that explore Charlotte’s post-Civil War history and the changing neighborhoods that define the current day city, is selling its uptown property as they embark on a new, digitally-focused vision.

The news comes as the museum celebrates its 30th anniversary.

President and CEO Kathryn Hill says this decision to sell the uptown property comes as part of the calling to reach new audiences and deliver non-traditional programming to fully embrace the museum’s next chapter.

Wednesday’s news doesn’t mean any immediate changes and Hill says they will continue to deliver the same programming expected from Levine Museum.

“For several years, Levine Museum has engaged in a deep exploration of the future of museums and of our own beloved Levine Museum. The Museum’s mission has never been more important, and if we are to reach broadly across the community, we must imagine new ways to create and deliver content in the digital age. We recognize, too, that we need to work more closely with and in the communities we serve, to ensure all Charlotteans are heard and known,” Hill wrote in a letter.

The museum recently got an endorsement of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which gave them a three-year, $600,000 grant to support its community-centered, digital-first transformation.

After reviewing the options, the Levine Museum Board agreed the best way to achieve their goals is to capitalize on the .7-acre property to support the evolution, and to find a more flexible Uptown facility to serve the mission.

“We’re told transactions such as this can take up to a year – so there’s still plenty of time to visit Levine Museum in our home at 7th and College streets Uptown,” Hill wrote.

The museum currently continues to welcoming visitors now and is planning for on-site programs, events and Family Days later in 2021.

In August, the museum will launch its first digital walking tour through the neighborhood once known as Brooklyn via a new Levine Museum app, KnowCLT.

The app uses augmented reality to animate the history of Brooklyn as you physically walk the streets of Charlotte’s second ward Uptown, where the largest, most vibrant African American community in the Carolinas thrived until Charlotte’s first wave of “urban renewal” destroyed structures and displaced thousands of residents. On Aug. 5, there will be a special launch event at Grace AME Zion Church.

“As we celebrate where we’ve been and where we’re going, I want to thank you personally for your friendship and support. You have enabled Levine Museum of the New South to tell everyone’s story, to confront difficult chapters in our shared history honestly, to convene the community in dialogue that fosters empathy and inspires action, and to celebrate Charlotte’s rich cultural traditions. It was with your help that Levine Museum redefined the role a history museum can play in building a stronger, equitable community. Now we are building on that legacy of innovation and commitment to civic engagement to ensure the success of this museum for future generations,” Hill wrote.

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