International African American Museum takes shape

      Picture provided.

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Forty percent of all enslaved Africans came through Charleston's waters to Gadsden's Wharf -- an area in downtown Charleston currently known as Liberty Square.

      It's the same site where the International African American Museum [IAAM] is set to be built and shared with the world, a location that museum officials said carries extra significance.

      "To know that we are able to build this on sacred ground right where the journey began is tremendous," said program manager of the International African American Museum Felicia Easterlin.

      The $75 million museum project was first envisioned by Charleston Mayor Joe Riley some 20 years ago.

      Easterlin said the project is in the fundraising phase with a goal of starting construction in January of 2016. The project site is on a vacant plot of land, donated by the City of Charleston, that sits across from the SC Aquarium and Liberty Square.

      Three years from now in 2018, officials said they hope to open the doors to the museum.

      "It's time for this to come together and make this part of our history a bridge to better futures for -- my children, our grandchildren -- the point of everything is to make things better for the next generation and I think the IAAM has an amazing ability to do that," Easterlin said.

      The International African American Museum will feature interactive exhibits, a family center, multimedia experiences, plus a 1,500-square-f00t pier with a rock from the West African coast.

      A redesign of Liberty Square is part of the total museum concept with plans for a major makeover with new landscapes, fountains, and a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.