KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is working to create a new international museum to celebrate black artists from Knoxville. When members of The Beck Cultural Exchange Center were working to purchase the home that was right next door to their building, they weren’t aware of the history that lay within.
Now, they’re hoping to open its doors for the world to experience a piece of Knoxville History. If you drive by 1935 Dandridge Avenue, you’ll see an old boarded-up home. Many wouldn’t think twice when passing by.
“Beck acquired the property in 2015 and we had no idea really at that time when we acquired it what we were going to do except that it was right next to us and we needed to figure out how we were going to develop this property that was right next door,” said Rev. Reneé Kesler, the current President of Beck.
However, when they took a closer look at the paperwork, they realized they now owned a piece of history.
“Who knew in 1975 when the Beck house was purchased to preserve the history, that it would also be right next store to the Delaney house,” Kesler said.
Beauford Delaney (1901-1979) and Joseph Delaney (1904-1991) were among the greatest artists of the 20th century. 1935 Dandridge Avenue was their last family home.
Kesler stated, “perhaps the greatest story that we get to tell is that these amazing artists came from Knoxville, Tennessee, and really in some of the most disadvantaged opportunities that you might find a family in. They were very very poor.”
The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is now working to preserve the building and make it the new home of a Delaney Museum.
“We’ll have some featured art pieces from the Delaney collection and what’s really really exciting is we will also have an artist-in-residence studio apartment,” Kesler explained.
Their goal is to turn the eyesore into an eye-catching work of art and a place to remember Knoxville’s history. They’re hoping to open the doors to the Delaney Museum in August of 2022. Beck is still looking for donors to help with the project. You can find out how to donate here.