African American Museum in Bowling Green working to salvage historical artifacts after tornado damage, then fire

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 8:19 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The iconic African American Museum, a non-profit in Bowling Green that sits in a building that belongs to WKU, is doing its best to preserve pieces of history of south-central Kentucky after a tornado, and then an unknown fire.

“Our goal is to be the keepers of the culture,” says Dr. John Hardin, the chair of the board of trustees at the African American Museum, on preserving it.

“It was a bit challenging. I went through the building on that day, noticed that we were in really good shape. We had a few things that were damaged, nothing major. We saw, perhaps some leaks, but they could be repaired most of the artifacts were preserved. And by the end of that day, we had things pretty well covered up and prepared... the fire I think was unexpected,” recalls Dr. Hardin on assessing the damage after.

On December 22, a fire broke out at the museum, possibly related to the tornado damage.

Meanwhile, Dr. Hardin says the museum welcomes anybody in the community. The museum is open to anybody that would like to experience a trip in history as it focuses on the contributions African Americans have made to the Bowling Green and the south-central Kentucky area.

“One of our goals is to protect, preserve, recover, and provide to the community, the African American History, and Culture so that people don’t forget. Sometimes culture is challenged by tornadoes, fire and, water and that remains the challenge for all of us to keep our culture to understand it for each succeeding generation,” explained Dr. Hardin.

A lot of the artifacts and historical pieces have been carefully removed. Dr. Hardin says Western Kentucky University and the Kentucky Museum have both been very helpful.

“The future says we’ll recover, and not to give up. But to simply keep going at it, doing the best we can, gathering all of those materials, organizing them, preserving, making sure they’re dry, and those that can be saved, we’re going to save them and those that were lost, there’s not much we can do.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, there is no return date yet.

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