Nat'l Civil Rights Museum will partially close for renovation - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Nat'l Civil Rights Museum will partially close for renovation

(WMC-TV) - Time is running out to see the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

Starting next week, renovations will partially close the historic site for one year. The renovation and partial closure is a first in its history.

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel opened 21 years ago to much fanfare with what was considered, back then, state of the art interactive exhibits.

But, that was then, and this is now.

"People no longer walk through the hallowed halls of museums and read a book on the wall. They wanna be engaged in different ways and, if things aren't tivo'ed, ipod'ed, downloaded, and textable, you know, a lot of people are just not -- it doesn't resonate with them in the same way, anymore," said Beverly Robertson, National Civil Rights Museum.

Robertson says the renovations include changing out the whole technological infrastructure of the exhibits in the motel building, integrating more automation, smart tables -- what Robertson describes as more "experiential."

But, while the motel building undergoes massive change, it does not mean it is closing up shop!

The Boarding House building where James Earl Ray is said to have fired the fateful shot that killed Martin Luther King, Junior will be open. It is across the street from the Lorraine Motel.

"And we will literally be doing tours out of that building. We'll be integrating some of the information that is contained in the historic Lorraine," said Robertson.

Also, after November 19, visitors will also be granted access to the balcony where King was shot. That is something that has never been available before.

When the new and improved Lorraine Motel building re-opens, Robertson says it will be an incredible experience for all.

"So we wanna make sure that people still have good reason to come to this place and to really be engaged in this history that is not in history books. And if we don't preserve it, people won't get it, so it's really an important segment of, not just African-American history, but it's an important segment of American history," explained Robertson.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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