MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — An institution dedicated to research, visual art forms and artifacts that contribute to the culture of African Americans is right here in Northeast Louisiana. It’s called the Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum in Monroe.

The museum started on the south side of Monroe in a small house on Plum Street. The executive director of the museum, Ross Slacks, said he has seen the museum grow since he was a child. His mother took over as a director and ran it for 20 years.

“We were working hard on trying to make it a larger place, a larger facility,” Slacks said.

The museum started in 1994 and since then has grown into a large building. The museum now sits in a 17,000 square foot building on 22 acres of land on Chennault Park Drive in Monroe.

“My mother virtually took over as director. She ran it for the next 20 years and during that 20 years we went from a shot gun house to trying to locate on the south side of Monroe and we finally were given this land donated by the city of Monroe,” Slacks said.

The museum now houses several art collections by famous regional artists, including Northeast Louisiana native, Don Cincone.

“Don Cincone’s artwork is more impressionistic,” Slacks said. “The paintings that we have here are during a certain time period, his paintings are in such great demand, you can never really keep them here, but we do hold the world’s largest collection when they are here.”

Visitors can also find hundreds of artifacts on display. The museum has integrated importation sections into the exhibits and has areas where you can learn about leaders who changed the course of history. According to Slacks, learning the history of such an important culture is vital to our growth as a community.

“These 15 parishes that we serve are some of the poorest in the nation. They don’t have the opportunities that a lot of people have,” Slacks said. “They can look around and see examples of how African Americans have progressed in different areas so they don’t have to pigeon hole themselves in one area, they can broaden their horizons.”

The Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum also holds quilting classes once a month and will hold art classes in the summer.

They also plan to celebrate Juneteenth. Events start on June 1 with a poetry and art event. At the end of June, they will have a gospel and jazz concert. For more information, visit its website.