Walter Hood, MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient and designer of the museum’s African Ancestors Memorial Garden, was inducted to the American Academy of Arts and Letters during its virtual award ceremony on May 19 at 7 p.m. EST.
Membership in the Academy is limited to 300 architects, visual artists, composers, and writers who are elected for life and pay no dues. The new members were elected by vote of the existing membership. The honor of election is considered the highest form of recognition of artistic merit in the United States.
The African Ancestors Memorial Garden, designed by Hood, is a collection of gardens and artistic installations that sprawls across the museum grounds, will be free and open to the public. The museum will be raised to provide room for these dynamic land linguistics and to commemorate the sacred location of Gadsden’s Wharf. It will include a series of outdoor features that give visitors the opportunity to honor and commemorate African ancestors and reflect on the historic significance of Gadsden’s Wharf.
Lauded historian and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. dubbed this space “ground zero of the African American experience,” while Lonnie Bunch, the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture calls it “one of the most sacred sites of African American history in the western hemisphere.
The Memorial Garden will link Charleston to a growing network of global sites of memory interconnected by the history of slavery and its legacies. The museum and its garden are slated to open in late 2022.