Featured in Crain’s Detroit Business’ Annual Giving Guide

The Arab American National Museum was featured in the 2013 Giving Guide, published by Crain’s Detroit Business. Here I discuss our goal of building the endowment to $10 million by 2017. Exit strategy: More nonprofits, donors turn to endowments for lasting impact

“Through the recession, we learned arts and culture was not the No. 1 priority for certain foundations and corporations,” said Devon Akmon, director of the Arab American National Museum. Endowment “is a way of building a more sustainable future. … It’s a bank of money we know will be there … unrestricted funds which provide a certain level of freedom and, in many ways, it’s guaranteed.”

An image from Crain's Detroit Business
Building The Endowment
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Featured on WDET: A Local Museum Earns National Props

“We realize that if people want to be receptive to our story, we have to be receptive to other stories.”
Devon Akmon, Director of the Arab American National Museum.

One of Metro Detroit’s newest cultural institutions has earned national credibility. The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, an honor most museums don’t have. Museum director Devon Akmon tells me it’s the gold standard for institutions of its kind.

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Discussing ixity.com with Crain’s Detroit Business

Coming website aims to be source for local arts, entertainment events via Crain’s Detroit, August 4, 2013

The promise and value Ixiti.com represents is exciting, said Devon Akmon, director of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn.

“Within the last few years, we’ve seen a change in the traditional media coverage of cultural events as resources have dwindled,” he said.

“You couple that with tighter budgets at institutions like ours, and it makes it a challenge to put adequate resources … to hit diverse markets in the region.”

Having a centralized portal that combines arts and cultural news, events and information in an online format that people now seek presents opportunities for audience development, Akmon said.

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Arab Americans in Search of Their Family History

Jeff Karoub, a Michigan-based reporter for the Associated Press, just published an excellent article titled, After a century, US Arabs look for pieces of past. As the title suggests, the article explores the difficulties in tracing the (factual) histories of Arab families that settled in the United States prior to 1924. Karoub draws upon his own frustrations of researching his family’s history in metropolitan Detroit.

The article speaks to many of the challenges we face when conducting research on Arab Americans who settled in the United States during the first major wave of Arab immigration (1880-1924). During this time, more than 20 million immigrants entered the U.S. Approximately 95,000 of these immigrants were from Greater Syria (present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel). For various reasons, including Ottoman rule in the homeland and the desire for rapid assimilation in the U.S., tracing the history of Arab Americans from this time period can be extremely challenging.

Mr. Karoub interviewed me for this article several months ago. As detailed in the feature, I can empathize with Mr. Karoub’s frustration with tracing his family’s history. As a third-generation American, you would hope to have a rather robust understanding of your family’s immigration story. However, this is not so for my family. I know roughly when my family arrived to the U.S., the name of our family’s village, but very little else. This is strange given that we have retained so many of our family’s customs and traditions. I have no idea why my family first settled in Kentucky, when they arrived in Detroit, our why my paternal grandfather’s family changed their surname from Joseph to Shatter. So many mysteries with so few answers.

We are currently working on a few initiatives at the AANM to help document and preserve family history. Many of these projects are being led by our staff in the Library & Resource Center. This includes the creation of a Community Resource Directory wiki, which will enable Arab Americans from around the country the opportunity to build community history for the comforts of their home. Additionally, we are creating a new laboratory in the L&RC for recording oral histories and digitizing two-dimensional artifacts and ephemera. Together, we hope these resources will provide an outlet for preserving Arab American history and documenting family histories.

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“Little Syria” featured on PRI’s The World

The AANM’s Little Syria project is picking up steam. We’re wrapping up the RFP process with exhibit designers, our curatorial staff is conducting research and collecting objects for the forthcoming exhibit, and the media is covering the story. We’re off to a good start.

Be sure to like the Little Syria Exhibit Facebook page for updates on the project. Also, if you missed it, there was a story from PRI’s The World, titled Saving New York’s ‘Little Syria’, that was aired on National Public Radio earlier this week. Check it out!

Little Syria Exhibit on Facebook
Little Syria Exhibit on Facebook
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Before the Spring | 2011 Arab Film Festival

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Come check out the annual Arab Film Festival at the Arab American National Museum. This year’s festival, Before The Spring: Alternative Arab Cinema from 2005 to Today, explores films that were produced leading up to the “Arab Spring.” The festival was curated by our friends at ArteEast. You can read more about the festival over at the HuffPost Detroit.

Screenshot of HuffPost Detroit
The 2011 Arab Film Festival on HuffPost Detroit
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