Wende Museum and Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum forge a partnership
August 22, 2019
By Dennis J. Freeman
The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum is on the move. After ending its longtime residence at 4130 Overland Ave. on July 31 through an alleged eviction from the County of Los Angeles, representatives of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum has been working behind the scenes to find a permanent location to house its massive collection of historical African American memorabilia.
For now, the collection, which has more than two million artifacts, books, films, and other memorabilia, is being stored at West Los Angeles Community College temporarily. However, there is no exhibition currently set up at the college for the public to come and view. Clayton said that eventually displaying an exhibit at the college is a goal, but as of now, the collection will remain housed behind the scenes.
In the meantime, talks with Cal State Dominguez Hills for the collection to land there on a longtime deal is ongoing, Clayton said. Ideally, Clayton said that he would like his mother's work to be housed on a standalone property. The option of having the collection displayed at Cal State Dominguez Hills is still on the table, he said. While these scenarios are playing themselves out, another development around the collection has rolled around.
It was announced this week through a joint statement by the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum and the Wende Museum, that the two entities have joined together in partnership to keep the substantial African American memorabilia trove alive in some form in Culver City. With an empty building, owned by the city of Culver City next to the Wende Museum, the two museums have been in talks to possibly have parts of the Mayme A. Clayton collection be displayed in an exhibition at the now-vacated location.
"We have a history of working together with the Wende. When we heard about the vision for the Creative Community Center, we were ecstatic. Working together and pooling resources to provide a greater public benefit while also demonstrating the value of arts and culture collaborations as a model is a win-win," said Steven Fisher, MCLM Board Director.
Formalized in June, the partnership, if this proposal is accepted by the city, would allow the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum to put on exhibitions and programming. The location of the proposed Creative Community Center is 10858 Culver Blvd. The Culver City Observer contacted Jessica McCormack of the Wende Museum to discuss this partnership.
Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: How long is the partnership inked for?
Jessica McCormack/Wende Museum: "The partnership is intended to be active in perpetuity if the vision for the Creative Community Center at 10858 Culver Boulevard is approved by the City as the usage for this City-owned building."
Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: Will the Wende Museum own the collection, or will the collection remain in ownership hands of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum?
Jessica McCormack/Wende Museum: "The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum will still own and oversee its own collection. The Wende Museum and the Mayme A. Clayton Library and museum will remain separate organizations, collaborating together on a shared space for programming."
Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: Is this an exclusive partnership or will the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum be allowed to pursue other options to house its collection?
Jessica McCormack/Wende Museum: "The partnership with the Wende is about programming (events and exhibitions in the Creative Community Center), and it is not exclusive. Both institutions are free and encouraged to pursue partnerships with other organizations. Collections storage is a separate issue - for that, the Clayton is already partnering with West L.A. College and in talks with other potential partners who may be able to offer space for collections."
Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: Why was it important for the Wende Museum to partner with the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum?
Jessica McCormack/Wende Museum: "The Wende and the MCLM are friends, neighbors, and fellow members of the Culver City Cultural Corridor. We have partnered on multiple events and mutually support each other's work. The MCLM is an essential and unparalleled resource for Culver City, Southern California, and the world. When it looked like they would no longer have a space in Culver City, the Wende wanted to help. Smaller museums and nonprofits need to join forces and mutually support each other in order to survive and thrive."
Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: When is the City expected to OK the deal? How long will that process take?
Jessica McCormack/Wende Museum: "There is an ongoing conversation about a possible partnership between the city and community organizations advocating for the Creative Community Center at 10858 Culver Blvd. We don't know exactly how long this process will take."
Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: Financially, how much will it cost to house the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum at the location?
Jessica McCormack/Wende Museum: "The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum collection will not be housed at this location. Rather, the location will be a place for the MCLM to present exhibitions and events. It's hard to predict costs at this time - it will depend on the frequency and types of programs."
Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: How does the Wende Museum benefit from having the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum as neighbors?
Jessica McCormack/Wende Museum: "The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum is an important and unmatched archive of African American art, media, literature, and more. This is an essential resource for scholars and the general public. As a neighbor and as a fellow museum, the Wende sees clearly the value of making archives accessible to researchers, students, and community members. It would be an incredible loss to Culver City and to our immediate neighborhood if the MCLM did not have a presence in the area."