National Juneteenth Museum Preserves History in Historic Southside of Fort Worth

The National Juneteenth Museum
Fort Worth, TX

In the making for years with the ‘Grandmother of Juneteenth’ Ms. Opal Lee at the helm, the National Juneteenth Museum will be housed in a purposefully designed space dedicated to preserving the history of the Juneteenth holiday.

KAI was selected as the Executive Architect alongside Lead Design Architect BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group to create a building that captures the spirit of Juneteenth, expresses the historic gravity of the day both locally and globally, and celebrates the cultural heritage of the Historic Southside in Fort Worth, Texas. Celebrating the “breaking of the chains” since June 19, 1865, the museum will serve as a global hub for discussions about freedom and as an extension of Lee’s legacy and will be the epicenter for education, preservation and celebration of Juneteenth. The new 50,000 square foot building will host exhibits, discussions and events about the significance of the African American path to freedom.

The project design embraces the local African American experience through motifs and symbolic touchpoints inspired by the gabled rooftops that define the Historic Southside neighborhood and the nova star, meaning ‘new star’. The nova star represents a new chapter for African Americans looking ahead towards a more just future. At the center of the publicly accessible courtyard is a ‘five point’ star engraved in gold to not only represent Texas, the last state to adopt and acknowledge the freedom of African American slaves, but also to serve as a nod to the American flag’s 50 stars, representing the freedom of African Americans across the country.

The museum will be on the second level of a two-story building. The lower level will feature a restaurant, business incubator, 250-seat amphitheater and storefronts. The three adjacent residential buildings will have 55 residences.

Construction is slated to commence in 2023 with a grand opening planned for mid-2025.

All renderings courtesy of BIG- Bjarke Ingels GroupKAI Design and Atchain.


Architecture, Design

"Seeing the national museum moving forward is a dream fulfilled. To see it become a central place for discussion, collaboration and learning seems to be the providential next step — from my walking campaign to Washington, D.C., the petition, and having Juneteenth declared a federal holiday. It’s mind-boggling, but I’m glad to see it all come to pass."

Ms. Opal Lee, The Grandmother of Juneteeth
National Juneteenth Museum Board of Directors

The Impact

Why Fort Worth?

In 1939, just three days after Opal Lee's family moved into a Southside Fort-Worth neighborhood, her home was destroyed in a fire set by a racist mob. This seminal moment has driven Lee's advocacy over the span of decades to make Juneteenth a national holiday which was signed into law in June 2021 by President Biden with Lee by his side. Lee continues to serve as an agent of change in her home city of Fort Worth and has ensured commemoration of this frequently ignored part of history. The National Juneteenth Museum will infuse economic activity into one of the south’s most underserved communities and shift the trajectory of a neighborhood that was once home to a number of prominent figures.