Travel

Run by Olayami Dabls, this is not the type of attraction that can (or should) be put neatly into a tourism box. The title “museum” is a purposeful, playful misnomer: The shimmering, bright house at the corner of Grand River and West Grand—it’s outfitted in shiny pieces of broken mirror, installed by Dabls—is a shop in that you can actually buy beads from Dabls extensive collection of African art. If you’re fortunate, Dabls will pop into the shop while you’re there (or if you linger long enough); he can tell you how many hundreds of years old every single bead in the space is (suffice it to say, there are a lot, and many more not on display), and from which country in Africa. (The woman who works here at the shop with Dabls, is also very rad—if you’ve already been to Eastern Market, you might recognize her from a Sydney G. James portrait mural, at the intersection of Orleans and Division Street.) If the interior of the shop is the preservation of African culture, the art installments outside examine what the process of assimilation means and looks like. Using iron, rock, wood, and mirrors, Dabls (who would say he is a storyteller, not an artist) tells a gripping cultural narrative that is both sad and stirring. Dabls is currently at work to evolve the property to include a gallery space, community gathering spot, and safe, climate-controlled storage for his important collection of African art. (For more on how you can support the expansion and on-going fundraising campaign needed to match a grant from the Knight Foundation, go here.)

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