What: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown invites you to visit one or all of 12 local attractions.
When: Noon-5 p.m. Sunday
Where: See a list of participating attractions below.
Cost: Free with an event passport. Passports are available at Kroger, Scott's Food & Pharmacy and Tower Bank locations in Fort Wayne; at Visit Fort Wayne, 927 S. Harrison St.; and at the attractions. Download a passport at www.visitfortwayne.com; click on the link for Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown.
The annual Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown event Sunday will be one of the first opportunities most people have had to visit the African/African-American Historical Museum since a struggle over leadership began late last year.
The museum has been open by appointment only, in part to allow time to upgrade wiring for fire and burglar security systems, said John Aden, the museum's new part-time executive director. But Aden has big ideas on how to use technology to make exhibits more interactive — and possibly generate revenue.
You can see initial updates — and visit 11 other Fort Wayne attractions — during Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free for everyone in your family or group with an event passport.
Passports are available at any Kroger, Scott's Food & Pharmacy or Tower Bank location in Fort Wayne, and at Visit Fort Wayne, 927 S. Harrison St. You also can pick one up at the attractions, or go to Visit Fort Wayne's website, www.visitfortwayne.com, click on the link for Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown, and then a second link to print off a one-page passport.
At the African/African-American Historical Museum, along with touring exhibits, you can see the Three Rivers Jenbe Ensemble drum group perform from 2 to 3 p.m.
Aden hopes the Be a Tourist event begins the museum's return to a more active schedule, possibly soon including being open two weekdays and Saturdays each week, he said.
Its board of directors hired him Jan. 28 to succeed museum founder and former Executive Director Hana Stith. Stith said she never resigned or retired.
Aden said his understanding is that the dispute is resolved. But Stith said nothing has been resolved.
With an attorney's help, she and her supporters had hoped to get a judge to consider the situation and rule which side rightfully should be in charge of the museum. But her side's attorney died, she said, and they don't have the money to continue a legal fight.
She still hopes a judge or community leader will step in to help settle the disagreement.
Visitors this Sunday will see a couple of changes:
•The museum office, which once occupied the room just to the left of the entrance, has been moved upstairs so its space can be transformed into a gift shop.
•The museum's library also has been moved upstairs, where it fills a room that formerly contained an exhibit on the Underground Railroad.
Aden said Stith and other museum founders helped the institution collect an amazing number of photos, articles and artifacts, and he is very grateful for their work. Displaying most of the items at once can be overwhelming to visitors, however, and especially to children.
In the future, he hopes to add video, touchscreen monitors and other interactive elements to exhibits, which would allow the museum to tell the story of African Americans and Africans in Fort Wayne with fewer display items.
For example, Aden wants to use a video camera to record oral history interviews with people still living who are featured in the museum's exhibits, such as ones on local history and local sports history. He then can put the videos on flat-screen monitors in the exhibits to let the history makers tell their own stories.
Likewise, he hopes to scan the vast number of photos and documents in the museum's local history area, and then make the material available to students via the Internet.
“We want this material in the kids' hands,” he said.
A grant the museum recently received from PNC will allow it to buy a video camera and video editing software, said Aden, who also works as a consultant to help clients get their name noticed more frequently by Internet search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!.
He also plans to seek grants to fund other technology initiatives, such as buying iPad Minis that visitors would use to take a self-guided tour of the museum. Installing two-dimensional bar codes on exhibit pieces would allow visitors to scan the bar code with the iPad Mini and go via the Internet to other sources of information on the item, person or topic.
Aden also believes the museum can use technology and programs to generate revenue, such as charging a fee for Internet users to view digitized copies of items in the local history collection. He envisions turning the museum's drawings of noted early African-American inventors into a coloring book computer application that could be sold through a smartphone app store.
In addition, Aden believes the museum needs to offer a rotating series of new exhibits to draw visitors and members — and keep them coming back.
He hopes to open the first, “Tupac Shakur and Hip Hop's Legacy of Violence,” by late October. He plans to follow it with “Bob Marley: A Retrospective,” a look at the late reggae music great.