When Althemese Pemberton Barnes founded the John G. Riley Museum in 1996, her mission to was ensure that African Americans’ historical contributions to the city of Tallahassee and beyond would be preserved for generations to come.
She entered her role at the John G. Riley Foundation as the youngest person serving on the board. In her time as executive director at the museum, she worked with more than 70 interns and numerous staff. Together, they have made incredible strides towards that goal.
Now, as founding director emeritus, Barnes, who retired in 2020, is continually inspired to see the work being completed by new generations of historians and she is ready to pass the torch.
“I think the Riley House lit a spark so that all of these young people could see that scholarship is good, but until you touch the root of a people, you still don’t have that genuine history,” says Barnes. “They’ve had experiences presenting at national conferences, and many now are working in museums as curators and executive directors.”
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