CEO leaving African American Museum in Philadelphia

The African American Museum (Kimberly Paynter / WHYY)

The African American Museum (Kimberly Paynter / WHYY)

The president and CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Patricia Wilson Aden, will step down from the museum she has led for eight years, to take a job in Memphis. Aden will become the head of the Blues Foundation, the blues music heritage non-profit that, among other things, annually gives out the Blues Music Awards (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards).

During her tenure, Aden is credited with keeping the 44 year-old museum afloat by diversifying the museum’s revenue streams through corporate sponsorships and gaining the support of local and national foundations.

Established by the City of Philadelphia in 1976, the AAMP was the first Black museum to be fully funded by a major city. Since then, however, the city’s contribution has declined to about 14% of AMMP operating expenses, or $231,000.

Earlier this summer Mayor Kenney had proposed eliminating the museum entirely from the city budget, in the face of widespread economic damage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aden responded at the time by saying AAMP’s overall budget had become less dependant on public funds, but that, “the city’s annual allocation has formed the bedrock of the museum’s operating budget.”

Ultimately the city budget passed with a restoration of its support for the museum to $350,000.

In July, board member Sabrina Brooks became the Board Chair of AAMP. “In the near future, AAMP will announce its strategy to ensure a smooth leadership transition that continues our positive momentum,” she said. “We welcome the continued support of the museum’s stakeholders and partners during this transition period.”

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