After raising $200,000 on our recently completed Phase 1 renovation of the MBAD African Bead Museum, Olayami Dabls (in partnership with Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA] and Allied Media Projects), is launching its Phase 2 fundraising campaign. This will include the renovation of the museum's corner building, considered to be one of Detroit's most important cultural landmarks and a symbol of its resilience.

While the exterior of the building is beautifully covered in Dabls' murals, it is currently in great disrepair and at risk of collapse. The building requires extensive renovation efforts in order to be transformed into Dabls' vision of a space for African-based exhibitions and arts education programs for local children and community groups.

Funds raised through this campaign with go towards a portion of the Phase 2 costs, which will pay for demolition and shoring the museum walls in preparation for the new gallery space.


Detroit's future is in its neighborhoods. MBAD African Bead Museum is in a unique position as a cultural institution born of and growing in a neighborhood. MBAD African Bead Museum is a cornerstone for the soon-to-be Africa Town at the intersection of New Center and Northwest Detroit.

The expansion of the museum provides an important cultural anchor from Detroit’s booming Downtown and Midtown while opening a connection to the West Side, home to Artist Village, The Redford Theatre, and The University of Detroit, Mercy.

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What was achieved in Phase 1:

After receiving a Knight Foundation matching grant in 2017 that allowed for significant repairs to the Museum, we raised an additional $100k in 2018 through a Patronicity crowdsourcing campaign which supported a number of upgrades to one of the museum’s three townhouses. The restoration effort has transformed a derelict, underutilized storage space into a 600 sq ft, light-filled gallery and community gathering space to be used for year-round gatherings and community events.

The new addition will allow public access to free, rotating exhibitions of African material culture from Dabls’ extensive collection of beads and artifacts, as well as works by artists and collaborators from Detroit and beyond. The renovation additionally provides a much-needed public restroom as well as new windows, heating, and electrical systems.


Next steps for Phase 2:

MBAD’s vision lies in the commitment to build an integrational art program designed to increase connectivity across cultures and generations with a neighborhood through storytelling and sharing cultural memory.

LOHA’s vision for the Bead Museum's corner building meets these goals by creating a programmable, enclosed, public gathering/exhibition space that will ultimately allow the museum to serve the needs of the community. With a viable museum space, the museum can host school tours and educational workshops, as well as year round exhibitions.

The design solution for MBAD’s corner building addresses the challenge of preserving the murals and conserving the Museum’s fiscal resources. Instead of expanding the extensive capital needed to repair the interior of the building and rebuild its roof, this scheme reinforces the property’s exterior walls so that they become freestanding surfaces—hence preserving the murals.

This enables the removal of the damaged interior structure, which is replaced with an inserted shed gallery space. The new enclosure walls provide a blank canvas for Dabls to continue his artistic explorations. Using simple, industrial-grade materials, in addition to the brick of the original structures, the LOHA design retains the language of the neighborhood context and signals the Museum’s role as a leader in the city’s future.