Renovations underway at National Civil Rights Museum - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Renovations underway at National Civil Rights Museum

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(WMC-TV) - That imposing bronze sculpture at the entrance of the National Civil Rights Museum comes back home today after some much-needed maintenance.

The sculpture is titled "Movement to Overcome."

And it took a heavy crane to haul the 14-thousand pound masterpiece onto a flatbed truck for its trip to the repair shop.

The renovations are part of a $22 million project that includes updating existing exhibits and expanding the lobby.

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

"People no longer walk through the hallowed halls of museums and read a book on the wall," NCRM president Beverly Robertson says.

"They want to be engaged in different ways. And if things aren't Tivoed, iPoded, downloaded and textable -- you know, a lot of people are just not -- it doesn't resonate with them in the same way anymore."

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."

While the motel buiding undergoes massive change, that doesn't mean it's closing up shop.

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

"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," Robertson said.

After November 19, visitors for the first time will also be granted access to the balcony where King was shot.

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

"We want to 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 the 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."

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