The Lewis Latimer Fund Inc. was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities, for new permanent exhibitions, interior preservation work and new arts-related programming for the Lewis Latimer House Museum in Flushing.
The museum was first established to preserve and promote the legacy of Lewis Howard Latimer and its mission is to close the gap in recognizing Lewis Latimer’s significance in the STEAM field and to spread awareness of the role African Americans and people of color, both past and present, play in American society.
“This initiative will exponentially expand awareness and appreciation of Latimer’s legacy and, in the process, transform Lewis Latimer House Museum into a 21st-century historic house museum,” said Hugh Price, great-grandnephew of Latimer, and vice chair of the board at the Lewis Latimer House Museum.
Alfred Rankins, chair of the board of directors for the Lewis Latimer Fund, expressed gratitude to the Mellon Foundation for its investment in the museum.
“We are very, very grateful to the Mellon Foundation for investing in the Lewis H. Latimer Fund,” Rankins said. “This investment provides an opportunity for us to make some much-needed improvement to the Latimer House Museum.”
Ran Yan, executive director of the Lewis Latimer House Museum, said the Mellon Foundation’s grant places a critical stake in a brighter future for the museum.
“It will enable us to replace the existing decades-old permanent exhibition with a new design. The exhibition will become the foundation for interpreting Lewis Latimer’s legacy as well as providing public and educational programs at the site for years to come,” Yan said.
An interpretive plan for the new permanent exhibition was recently completed in collaboration with Brocade Studio. As the museum begins implementing the plan, its vision is to engage museum visitors in reliving Latimer’s unsung journey by replacing the current static exhibition panels with interactive, tech-forward displays rooted in rich historical context.
“The bottom line is we are on a mission to show the American people that Lewis Latimer, a Black inventor, helped build America. In doing so, we aim to make Lewis Latimer a household name,” Price said.