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Prospect Park Alliance Unveils ReImagine Lefferts Interpretive Plan

June 11, 2024

Prospect Park Alliance has partnered with Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA), designers of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture amongst many others globally, to create a new interpretive plan for the Lefferts Historic House museum that shifts the museum’s focus to explore the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family.

“As the Alliance’s first Black leader, I am honored to be ushering in this new interpretive plan and a new era of recognition and celebration of the stories and histories that have been ignored for centuries. Through this plan we seek to make the museum a place for healing and a forum for thoughtful dialogue and learning for our community,” said Morgan Monaco, Prospect Park Alliance President

“All of us at RAA are committed to creating public spaces that foster understanding and empathy. The Reimagine Lefferts initiative offers a unique chance to prioritize meaningful dialogue and reflection on essential but also evolving histories, in a set of special spaces designed to bring the city together in recognition of their significance,” said Nick Appelbaum, Ralph Appelbaum Associates President

In 2021, the Alliance launched the ReImagine Lefferts Initiative through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation. Through this initiative, the Alliance and RAA have developed an interpretive plan that will guide the Alliance in creating future exhibits and programming. The goal is to foster a safe and accessible space for engaging audiences with our collective past, as well as contemporary issues affecting descendant communities today. The plan is an ongoing and evolving roadmap for the museum, and was crafted from an intensive, year-long community engagement process that encompassed thousands of hours of conversation, insight, feedback and guidance from descendant communities, culture bearers, scholars, artists, civic leaders and museum professionals.

The descendant guidance we’ve received is essential,” said Dylan Yeats, Prospect Park Alliance ReImagine Lefferts Project Manager. “One of the most important things we learned throughout the process is the importance of ongoing partnerships with individuals and organizations already stewarding this living history, and it really is the brilliance, creativity and vision of our community partners that make this initiative a success.”

The interpretive plan is centered on a series of outdoor exhibits that engage park visitors. Upon entrance to the grounds, there will be large-scale panels curated by representatives from nations across the Lenape diaspora and a Dikenga Cosmogram that honors the ancient  wisdom Africans brought with them to the Americas. The plan also features public art, healing gardens, a Freedom-Seeker wall, and spaces for live events and programs that do not shy away from the history of dispossession and enslavement, but  emphasize and celebrate the inspirational resilience of descendant communities today and the ways their cultures endure. As a first step in the new interpretation, the Alliance has launched its first artist-in-residence, Adama Delphine Fawundu’s Ancestral Whispers.

Elements of the interpretive plan will be developed over the next year, and the Alliance’s work to solicit guidance from descendant communities to inform the future of the Lefferts Historic House will continue through events and other engagements. 

View the plan and learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts Initiative.