History and Background

The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) is a San Francisco based nonprofit organization that was conceived as a cornerstone of the economic and cultural revitalization of downtown San Francisco. Since it opened in December 2005 MoAD has become an anchor with its neighbors, the San Francisco MoMA, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Zeum, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, in making this dynamic cultural corridor a premier cultural destination.

As a dynamic, world class institution, MoAD brings people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds together so they can enjoy, study and appreciate, through enriching exhibitions, public and educational programs, the culture, history and art of people of African descent within the United States and throughout the world. MoAD is uniquely positioned as one of the only Museums in the world focused exclusively on African Diaspora culture and on presenting the rich cultural products of the people of Africa and of African descendant cultures across the globe.

MoAD developed as part of a public/private partnership led by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, in cooperation with the Mayor’s Office and the developers of the St. Regis Museum Tower. In 1999 under the mandate from the City of San Francisco to include an African American cultural presence in the last vacant parcel of Yerba Buena Gardens, Mayor Willie L. Brown appointed a steering committee to begin a process of determining the mission and scope of a cultural facility within the complex. Cultural management, architectural, and design consultants were contracted by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency to work with members of the steering committee to formulate the facility design and program elements of a new museum.

The African American Cultural Institute grew out of the research and development process that began in 2002 and included participation by local and nationally known scholars and community leaders. The new museum was renamed Museum of the African Diaspora to reflect a broadened scope and mission, was incorporated in 2002 as a 501 c 3 nonprofit, and opened in 2005 in an architecturally stunning space that was designed by the nationally-renowned firm, the Freelon Group within the footprint of the St. Regis Museum Tower.