GRAAMA isn’t just an acronym for this revelatory museum, it’s also a sly reference to the museum’s mission – to promote, preserve, display, collect and honor the lives, culture, history and accomplishments of Africans, African Americans and connected peoples in the greater Grand Rapids community.
In African culture, griots kept the history and traditions of family, tribes and nations alive through the stories they told. Griots were typically male, but when Africans were brought to the Americans, women became the transmitters of oral history. Today, it’s often the grandmother – the GRAAMA – that fulfills this role.
GRAAMA – the museum – shares the stories of local African Americans through recorded oral histories, memorabilia, exhibits, pop-up displays and special events. Walls are filled with works by local artists, cases display fascinating historical objects and shelves are stocked with unique and meaningful merchandise for sale.
The museum’s Grandma’s Voices project captures stories and wisdom from the elders of the community. A Collectors Club connects people with an interest in African American collectibles. Special February programming is a highlight of the city’s Black History Month celebration.
GRAAMA is located in the heart of downtown, on Monroe Center Street, just one block east of Rosa Parks Circle and the Grand Rapids Art Museum.