By Steve Pickett

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When the doors opened at 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, a group of seniors from Dallas’ Kiest Park Senior Center were hopping off a DART bus, heading for their first tour.

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Minnie Redmond had never visited the African American Museum before Wednesday.

When she stepped from one image of legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson to another, she focused not only on the popular exhibition, but the creators of the art.

“It’s great.  I’m really enjoying it”, the Sunday school teacher said.

Redmond now joins a list of thousands who’ve visited the Fair Park-based museum. The AAM is a popular cultural museum, dedicated to the preservation and magnification of African American contributions to art, culture and history.

It offers four distinctive gallery halls, where national exhibitions are provided to the public.  There is one permanent gallery hall dedicated to the history of Black Dallas.

“Facing The Rising Sun-Freedman’s Cemetery” focuses on Dallas’ first established community at the turn of the 20th Century.

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Dozens of photographs of families, schools, businesses and social groups line the walls of the gallery.  They tell the story of the descendants of Dallas’ Freedman’s community, and black families that lived under Jim Crow laws.

Museum Director Dr. Harry Robinson admits the exhibit was not intended to be a permanent display, but everything changed because of demand.

“People kept coming asking for it”, Dr. Robinson said.

Now, there are plans to extend the exhibit.

The museum also offers tours of still standing architectural structures built by African Americans.  The senior citizens group visiting the AAM today discussed how tied they were to the many artifacts on display.

“We lived in this era”, one woman whispered to another.

Dr. Robinson noted the importance of all generations being able to see the exhibits.  “We say the museum is a place of celebration and transformation,” he said.

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The African American Museum is located at 3536 Grand Ave. Dallas, TX.  Fair Park.