Welcome to the African American Museum of the Arts. Open from 10 am to 4 pm Wednesday thru Saturday. Admission is FREE (Please schedule tours in advance)
Founded in 1994 and located in historic DeLand, the seat of Volusia County Government, AAMA is a unique and vital resource in this part of Florida. It is the only museum in the area devoted primarily to African American cultures and art. The museum houses a revolving gallery where visitors will find works of both established and emerging artists. The museum is also the home to a permanent collection of more than 150 artifacts, including sculptures and masks from countries of Africa.
In addition to the visual arts, the museum founded the Little Theater of DeLand in 1999 to afford children and adults an opportunity to develop their dramatic abilities.
With regard to the literary arts, the museum is researching the history of Spring Hill, the community in which the museum is located, for the purpose of writing a book.
The AAMA is a not-for-profit arts facility dedicated to promoting multicultural artistic excellence and providing educational, historical and cultural opportunities to all ages, specifically the African American community, in visual, literary and performing arts; while encouraging interaction with the community through on-site and outreach exhibitions, presentations and historical research.
The African American Museum of the Arts was founded in 1994 by Irene D. Johnson and her husband, Maxwell. They had long envisioned a place where African American artists could display their artwork year-round. They wanted to create a place that would shape the thinking of young African Americans in a positive and self-affirming manner.
Irene and Maxwell met with Gale Bouie, Phosphoria Hill, Brian Owens, Harry Messersmith (Director of the DeLand Museum of Art), and Dr. Adrianne Baytop to discuss the feasibility of establishing a museum in DeLand. They also met with Gary Libby, Director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Donald Shepp, Director of the Maitland Museum, N. Y. Nathiri, Director of the Zora Neal Hurston Museum, and Diedre Libby, Director of the Tampa African American Museum as well as the Director of the Ormond Beach Museum.
After numerous community meetings with friends and leaders from West Volusia, a board of directors was established on September 22, 1994, to create the African American Museum of the Arts. Two months later in November, the museum signed an agreement with the DeLand Housing Authority for a 1200 square foot facility located at 325 S. Clara in the heart of the African American community in DeLand, Florida.
The museum was incorporated on January 10, 1995, thanks to the services of Attorney Larry Sands. On May 3, 1995, the museum received its 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit tax-exempt status and opened its doors to the public on October 8th, 1995.
Since its founding, the museum has provided exhibitions of the highest quality, held classes for youngsters and seniors, and is frequently the meeting place for community organizations. In interacting with the community, the museum has participated in numerous festivals and sponsored exhibits in schools, businesses, and churches throughout Volusia County. The AAMA enables the public to become more informed of the rich heritage of African Americans.
The Museum owns the facilities at 322, 325, and 329 S. Clara Ave.
An ECHO (E= Environment, C=Cultural, H=Historic, and O=Outdoors) grant, in the amount of $100,000, was secured from the County of Volusia to help defray expenses for constructing the Noble “Thin Man” Watts Amphitheater and creating the Maxwell and Irene Dixon Johnson Cultural Park located at 322 S. Clara Ave. The cost of the Amphitheater and the Cultural Park was $396,000. $296,000 was secured from the following sources: the Federal Government (CDBG), Florida State Government, City of Deland, corporations, businesses, organizations and numerous individuals.
Irene D. Johnson
Rev. Maxwell Johnson