GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Ferris State University’s Board of Trustees has approved a $5 million commitment to help the university’s Jim Crow Museum open a new facility.

The museum is curated by David Pilgrim, Ferris State’s vice president for diversity, inclusion and strategic initiatives, and designed to use “objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.”

The museum moved into its current 3,500 square-foot space inside the Ferris Library for Information Technology and Education in 2012. The new home, estimated to open in 2025, will include 7,500 square feet of exhibit space, allowing the museum to show more of its growing collection.

According to a news release, the museum is looking to raise $20 million to pay for the new facility. The museum has already secured a $1 million donation from the state and another $2 million from other donors. But Pilgrim said the commitment by the Trustees shows how much the university supports the museum and its mission.

“The financial investment by the Board of Trustees sends a powerful message,” Pilgrim said in a release. “Once built, the new Jim Crow Museum will be a centerpiece of the University’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and serves our students, the state and the nation as a teaching and learning resource.”

The museum was born out of Pilgrim’s personal collection. Pilgrim recalled that he bought his first piece of racist memorabilia as a child in the 1970s in Mobile, Alabama. He remembers buying it and smashing it on the ground. He discovered his passion for collecting as an undergrad student in Texas. And while it was first fueled by anger, Pilgrim says he found a way to put his passion to a better use.

“(In the early 1990s) I gave public addresses, mainly to high school students. I discovered that many young people, blacks and whites, were not only ignorant about historical expressions of racism, but they believed that I was exaggerating when I described the awfulness of Jim Crow,” Pilgrim said on the museum’s website. “Their ignorance disappointed me. I showed them segregation signs, Ku Klux Klan robes, and everyday objects that portrayed Blacks with ragged clothes, unkempt hair, bulging eyes and clown-like lips — running toward fried chicken and watermelons and running away from alligators. … I was learning to use the objects as teaching tools while simultaneously dealing with my anger.”

Pilgrim admits that some of the items on display are shocking and hard to take in. He said that’s not the goal, but it can be one of the lasting impacts.

“A thick naivete about America’s past permeates this country,” Pilgrim said. “A confrontation with the visual evidence of racism — especially thousands of items in a small room — is frequently shocking, even painful.”

The Jim Crow Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.