July 1, 2022

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU CAAM Closed for Expansion Project, Exhibits Moved to Fine Arts Gallery

The Copeland African American Museum at Valdosta State University will soon undergo renovation and expansion, an effort to bolster its steadfast promise to preserve and uplift the stories of African American history. The museum will remain closed throughout the summer and will reopen as soon as the project is completed, which should be sometime this fall. 





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VALDOSTA — The Copeland African American Museum at Valdosta State University will soon undergo renovation and expansion, an effort to bolster its steadfast promise to preserve and uplift the stories of African American history. The museum will remain closed to visitors until the project is completed.

“This expansion is very exciting because it helps us become an even better community resource,” shared Dr. Amy Watson, interim museum director. “We really want to be the first place teachers and community organizations think of when they are planning field trips and outings. This expansion gives us the space to comfortably host programmed tours and activities for larger groups that can range in age from 3 to 93. Additionally, it allows for more of the collection to be on display at the same time.”

Through July 23, visitors will have an opportunity to examine 23 pieces from the Copeland African American Museum’s more-than-100-piece collection in VSU’s Dedo Maranville Fine Arts Gallery, located on the first floor of the Fine Arts Building near the intersection of Oak Street and Brookwood Drive. This special exhibition may be viewed between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays by calling VSU’s Department of Art and Design at (229) 333-5835. It may also be viewed one hour prior to show time and during intermission throughout the Peach State Summer Theatre season.

Ashley Braswell, development director for VSU’s Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration, which houses the museum, said the renovation and expansion project will increase the Copeland African American Museum’s square footage nearly fourfold. This additional space will allow for the installation of an EMPOWERment Zone for children to encourage engagement and inspire a love of learning through hands-on activities and fun.

The renovation and expansion project will also allow for the creation of a room where visitors can reflect upon the story of the Black experience from enslavement through the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. This transformative experience will provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about and reckon with some challenging aspects of America’s past.

“This space will serve as a constant reminder of the humble beginnings of the Black community and their determination for a better life,” Braswell added.

The Copeland African American Museum renovation and expansion project should be completed in the fall, assuming no delays. When the museum reopens, visitors are sure to be inspired by a refreshed museum experience featuring some never-before-seen exhibits.

In 2016 Roy and Cheryl Copeland gifted their entire African American memorabilia collection to VSU’s Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration. A few years later that gift inspired the creation of the Copeland African American Museum, a destination for anyone seeking inspiration, knowledge, a change of perspective, and food for conversation. 

“The Copeland African American Museum is a cultural destination that both respects the past and transforms the way we see the future,” Braswell shared. “It is just one way our university is building bridges, bringing attention to diversity and inclusion, and shining a light on African American tribulations and triumph.” 

The Copeland African American Museum first opened its doors in January 2020. Today it continues to welcome visitors from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who are excited to see the African American memorabilia on display, to share ideas and experiences, and to be inspired to learn more about why African American history matters to everyone. 

It is a dream come true for the Copelands, who have spent the past 30-plus years building a legacy of encouraging people of all ages and all ethnicities to examine, explore, and analyze the innovative, creative, and intelligent contributions of African Americans throughout history — and to remember, recognize, and celebrate those contributions all year along. 

The Copeland African American Museum collection spans more than 150 years of history and features more than 100 pieces, which the Copelands began collecting in 1989 when Cheryl Copeland surprised Roy Copeland with a set of autographed Muhammad Ali boxing gloves for Christmas. She continued to select a unique piece of history for him every year, and soon the couple began collecting even more African American memorabilia at live auctions, online auctions, garage sales, antique houses, and more. 

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