Grand re-opening preview of National Civil Rights Museum - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Grand re-opening preview of National Civil Rights Museum

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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

The official grand reopening of the National Civil Rights Museum will take place April 5 with a special candlelight vigil on the evening of April 4 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

But, you won't have to wait until April to get your first look at some of the $27.5 million worth of changes.

The first new thing you will notice when you arrive at the museum are small, upright monitors scattered around the courtyard in front of the old Lorraine Motel. This will be the first glimpse of what's inside for the millions of visitors who will be coming to this new and improved version of the National Civil Rights Museum.

MORE: NCRM balcony tours to end Feb. 2 during renovation
MORE: NCRM delays reopening until April

At a special media preview, NCRM President Beverly Robertson said the changes are dramatic.

"You know we have had people to walk around the gallery and turn all the way around and some have just broken down in tears," Robertson said. "Meaning, some have literally cried in the body of the exhibition, or they have fallen back as they walk through the experience to try and take in the magnitude of what it is they are seeing. But, clearly, it creates a mire of emotions that are awfully powerful. So, it creates a powerful impact."

There are 260 artifacts, more than 40 new films. Oral histories and interactive media, external listening posts and contemporary design will guide visitors through five centuries of history.

Until the grand re-opening April 5, you can still go to the part of the museum that is still open, and that's across the street from the Lorraine Motel. It picks up the civil rights movement from 1968 to present day.

While there are many new and modern aspects to the museum, much of the old museum remains. But, it's presented in a more effective way.

"We wanted to keep the history, the content in place," Robertson said. "What we wanted to do was deliver the content in a different way, because people no longer walk through a museum and read a book on the wall. They want to be immersed in the experience. They want to feel as if they are part of that history. It almost becomes living history when you feel that history."

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