Elevating the stories, achievements and experiences of Black girls and women. It's what Denver's newest museum is all about. And if you take a look inside, you may just learn something new.
"I like to say that the Museum for Black Girls is a vibrant, celebratory, inspirational place. Celebrating Black girl magic and giving Black girls their flowers," said Charlie Billingsley.
Four years ago, Denver-bred Billingsley founded the Museum for Black Girls in a friend's boutique.
"It was supposed to be a one-night event that has turned into now a four-year traveling museum," said Billingsley.
Today the museum has a Houston location, pop-ups across the country, and soon a permanent location on the 16th Street Mall inside the Denver Pavilions.
"It's not your typical museum, you'll hear music and there'll be dancing," said Billingsley.
Inside, you'll find history, art and nostalgia.
"One of our favorite exhibits is our 'Grandma's Kitchen.' A lot of us grew up getting our hair done in our grandma's kitchen. And the one we have here is a replica of my own grandma's kitchen. So, we kinda base it off of our memories and things we grew up on and places and spaces that are important to us and where we would like to be represented," said Billingsley, who curates the museum with a team of friends and family.
Exhibits also highlight stories that haven't historically been told.
"A lot of stories that are kind of like we say hidden figures," said Billingsley, "Or there's a lot of just things that we have now that people don't know that we wouldn't have without a Black woman thinking of it or inventing it or making it possible. And that just provides more inspiration to everyone all over that anything is possible. And we need to see that representation to know that."
Billingsley says the immersive experience is somewhere between a selfie museum and a traditional museum.
"It's more of a sensory space, so you can touch, feel, see, hear everything that's here and just enjoy it," said Billingsley.
The museum comes to 16th Street with the help of Pop-Up Denver, which supports new businesses and works to revitalize downtown.
"Our selection committee was really looking for something that would bring people downtown, offer them something they couldn't get online. And the Museum for Black Girls is definitely part of that trend towards experiential immersive experiences," said Sarah Wievenson with the Downtown Denver Partnership.
Wievenson says traffic downtown is now over 90 percent of what it was pre-pandemic. Thirteen restaurants and vendors have opened downtown so far this year. A Museum of Optical Illusions will soon open, as the Museum for Black Girls brings representation and education to downtown Denver.
"We get a lot of Black women and girls that come in and they're like 'wow, somebody finally sees me. I feel heard, I feel loved, I feel celebrated,'" said Billingsley.
The museum's grand opening will be in October. Tickets go for $32 for adults and $15 for kids. They can be purchased online or at the door.
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