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MasterMinds 2012 Revisited: Buffalo Soldiers Museum Gets A New Home

In January, Captain Paul Matthews, founder of The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, told our Steve Jansen that the museum's collection of military items, ranging in dates from 1866 to 1951, was outgrowing its space in a 3,500-square-foot building on Southmore Boulevard, where it had been housed for 12 years. The Buffalo Soldiers Museum was in the midst of a capital campaign to fund its move to a new home when they were announced as winners of a 2012 Houston Press MasterMinds award.

That recognition, along with a $2,000 no-strings-attached cash prize, helped finalize the move. The money was used to renovate the 1925 Houston Light Guard Armory Building, which the collection moved into, aptly, on Veterans Day.

"It's been a year in the making," Matthews said. "We had a soft opening, not a grand opening -- we moved into the first floor of the museum. The second phase of the capital campaign will be to renovate the second and third floors."

Matthews said he kept several copies of January's MasterMinds issue of the Houston Press, which featured the Buffalo Soldiers historical re-enactment team, at the museum. Members of that group also performed at our annual arts gathering, Artopia, including Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux, who performed as Harriet Tubman.

"We got a lot of feedback," Matthews said. "People thought it was a great shot and a great cover. It was an opportunity for us to reach a new audience, some of whom had never even heard of Buffalo Soldiers, except the Bob Marley song."

For the future, Matthews said the museum and its board are focused on getting the rest of their new building renovated and reaching other segments of the community. And his advice for next year's MasterMinds?

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Nominations are now open for the fifth annual MasterMind Award competition honoring the best in Houston arts. We're looking for artistic types who are changing our creative and cultural landscape in the Houston area.

A committee of Press representatives will evaluate the potential honorees in each field, and then pick winners. Three winners will each receive a check for $2,000 along with a plaque at a special ceremony that is part of the Press's annual Artopia Party, celebrated at the Winter Street Studios on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

Deadline for nominations: By 5 p.m. Friday, December 7, 2012. To nominate someone, e-mail masterminds@houstonpress.com or send your nominations to MasterMinds Nominations, Houston Press, 1621 Milam St., Houston, TX 77002.

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