MAAA LOCATION STATEMENT Our History & Future at 4005 Crenshaw Boulevard
The Museum of African American Art (MAAA) in Los Angeles is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1976 by noted artist, art historian, author, and educator Dr. Samella Lewis. The museum educates visitors of all ages and identities about the arts through the lens of African American culture. In addition to preserving and sharing its important permanent collection and archives, MAAA welcomes all visitors with free admission, serves as an important community gathering space, and creates educational experiences for students and lifelong learners.
The museum’s original location in 1976 was on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica. Since 1980, the museum's address has been the third floor of the historic Streamline Moderne style building at 4005 Crenshaw Boulevard, which opened as a May Company department store in 1947 and has been operated most recently by Macy's as part of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
MAAA has been in the same location on the third floor at 4005 Crenshaw Boulevard since the early 1980s and has become a cultural landmark over the decades by continuing to serve the community through previous changes in the building's ownership and branding — from the original May Company (1947–1993) to Robinson's-May (1993–2005) to Macy's (2006–2023). Aside from the founding May Company department store that operated the building for 58 years, the Museum of African American Art is the longest continuous occupant of the historic building at 4005 Crenshaw Boulevard, with 43 years documented at the address to date (from 1980 to 2023 / present).
For more information about the history of the May Company building at 4005 Crenshaw Boulevard, see the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Historic Resource Report by Christopher A. Joseph & Associates (July 2009). The Museum of African American Art is referenced on page 10.
In August 2021, Macy's sold the building to Harridge Development Group, the same company that purchased the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and leased the building back from the new owners to continue operating the Macy’s Baldwin Hills Store #520. In January 2023, Macy’s announced it would discontinue its retail operations at the building by the end of March 2023.
The Museum of African American Art will exhibit in a temporary space inside Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza while the building at 4005 Crenshaw is being renovated. After the redevelopment period, which is expected to last approximately 18 to 24 months, MAAA will continue to occupy its renovated and preserved landmark location on the third floor at 4005 Crenshaw Boulevard.
We are working with the BHCP Partnership to identify an appropriate temporary mall space that will allow MAAA to continue our planned exhibitions and programs within our nonprofit mission during the renovation period.
The Museum of African American Art has been in communication with the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Partnership since shortly after their August 2021 purchase of the building where the museum has occupied its donated space on the third floor for more than four decades. As an iconic and essential venue for local artists in Los Angeles, the Museum of African American Art has been invited by the BHCP Partnership to continue in its current third-floor location after the renovation period and remain co-located with the building's anticipated new uses. The museum represents an important component of the BHCP Partnership's planned community benefits.
During these times of rapid transformation and increased displacement in our neighborhoods, MAAA remains committed to sustaining and evolving its museum space so that visitors of all generations and backgrounds can continue to experience the arts through local artists in our community.