DENVER (KDVR) — A pop-up elevating and empowering Black women is making its return to the Mile High City. After closing in 2021, the Museum for Black Girls is reopening in Denver with a new location, and it’s already creating a lot of buzz.
Charlie Billingsley, a Colorado native and founder of the Museum for Black Girls, has spent the last year building-up Black women across the nation by opening similar pop-ups in Houston and Washington D.C.
But now, the Black girl magic is coming back home by popular demand.
Inside the Museum for Black Girls, there is plenty of room to strike a pose. The museum is an immersive experience highlighting the stories, achievements and history of Black women.
“I just don’t think that people saw us as important,” said Billingsley. “We’re pillars, not just in this community, but all over the world.”
The museum is a love letter to Black women and creates a place for women of all ages to feel safe, comfortable and accepted. All locations are filled with fun selfie installations, murals embracing beauty, body and natural hair, art created by Black women and a crowd favorite, affirmations.
The positive words are spoken by creative director Von Ross who has worked beside Billingsley each step of the way. Upon entry, each person stands in front of a mirror while Von Ross recites positive words.
For example, “Here at the Museum for Black Girls, we see you amazing, we see you talented, we see you so special.”
Perhaps the most iconic room many anticipate seeing is Grandma’s Golden Kitchen which is a cultural commonality in most African American households. The concept is designed after Billingsley’s grandmother’s kitchen and even has a replica of her pressing comb.
“How many other little Black girls have had this same memory where they sat in the chair and they had their mom or their aunt or their cousin do their hair,” Ross explained. “This is where bonding and vital life discussions take place.”
Billingsley, a Denverite herself, is eager to be back home and late last month got the keys to her new space. The Museum for Black Girls will be returning along the 16th Street Mall. The now-closed Victoria’s Secret building is currently being transformed into her new pop-up.
“It’s overwhelming, but it’s exciting,” Billingsley said. “This is where the love started.”
In 2019, Billingsley was a photographer and wanted to continue her mission of celebrating Black women but not just through images.
“I just wanted to elevate that and take that a step bigger and be like hey, you know what, let’s actually create a whole space dedicated to Black women,” Billingsley said.
The rest is history.
Her first test run had folks lined up around the building in Aurora and grew quickly in popularity. COVID-19 put a halt in the Aurora operations, but in 2021 the pop-up re-emerged in RiNo with girls of all ages showing their support by visiting.
With dreams of expanding, the RiNo location closed while Billingsley and her small team created the Museum for Black Girls in Houston and Washington D.C., which are big successes.
But her roots are calling her home now.
“Being in a place where Black artists are not represented so much and Black women aren’t represented is a big reason I’m excited,” Billingsley said. “For little Black girls, especially, it’s amazing to finally have that representation so that they know that they can do anything.”
The goal is to open the Denver location by the end of this month in honor of Black History Month. So, they’re working on getting everything ready now.
The museums are all self-funded with the help of some small grants, but if you’d like to support their efforts, Billingsley has a fundraiser set up.