Detroit’s MBAD African Bead Museum launches new exhibition spaces

Dabls' African Bead Gallery and MBAD Museum - Lee DeVito
Lee DeVito
Dabls' African Bead Gallery and MBAD Museum

New life is being breathed into a longstanding Detroit artistic landmark.

The MBAD African Bead Museum will soon debut a new Gallery and Community Space, which will launch with a free event from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday, June 22.

“For the first time in 17 years, we will have a space where we can engage the community through storytelling programs and make the Museum available to the people who need a gathering space,” Olayami Dabls, artist and founder of the African Bead Museum, says in a release. “This adds a whole new dimension to our plans for the future.”

The project was created with Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects. On June 22, Dabls and LOHA’s Lorcan O’Herlihy will be joined by Brittney Hoszkiw of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, who will all serve as keynote speakers. In addition, a live performance by Efe Bes’s group IBM will also be featured, followed by Detroit-based artist Elizabeth Youngblood's presentation of the mat|ter exhibit. Youngblood’s showing will coincide with Material Detroit, a series of performances and events within the city co-curated by the Cranbrook Art Museum, Arts.Black, and Sidewalk Detroit.

In 2018, a Patronicity crowdsourcing campaign raised 100,000 for the museum, sponsored by Allied Media Projects. The launch event will pay respect to the efforts the campaign has provided for the museum, which have supported numerous upgrades to the museum’s three buildings.

The museum will provide free access to rotating exhibitions featuring Dabls’ collection of African beads and artifacts. The public will also get the opportunity to feast their eyes upon the work of other Detroit-based artists, and those in collaboration from outside the city.

Dabls created the museum 14 years ago in what he described at first as “a complete dumping ground.” The museum is now seen as a triumphant part of the heart of Detroit’s art and culture scene, even attracting Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino during a visit to Detroit a few years ago.
Further efforts to increase and create fundraising opportunities are already underway in order to construct bigger spaces meant to hold additional space for exhibitions, visiting artist residences, and administration facilities.

“AMP is proud to support Dabls' MBAD African Bead Museum,” Toni Moceri, sponsored projects program director of Allied Media Projects, says in a release. “We're thrilled to celebrate the completion of the townhouse renovation. This vital update to the building will allow the Bead Museum to continue its work of uplifting local culture and artistry, and reinforce national and local exchanges of creativity in the city of Detroit.”

The 2nd Annual African Children’s Day will also take place between the time of the launch from noon to 5 p.m. on the museum grounds. More information about Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects can be found at

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