worldsaids-2 copyIt’s been nearly three years since the World AIDS Museum was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and since then nearly all of the hopes and dreams of the Museum’s Board of Directors have been fulfilled. They started leasing space in the Wilton Station complex in Wilton Manors in September 2013, and immediately began work installing exhibits, some of which had previously been seen at The Pride Center at Equality Park and Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach.

The staff couldn’t have been prouder to cut the ribbon on their finished space on May 15, and right now the Museum is open four days a week for tours. The grand opening is coming up in December and a special gala will honor the Museum, its volunteers and its donors. This gala will be held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

I talked with World AIDS Museum and Educational Center President and Founder Steve Stagon about how people can become involved with the Museum’s development, and what the immediate future holds for the Museum.

Tell us about opening day. 

On May 15, the Museum had a soft opening. Three groups toured the museum that day, including Clear Health Alliance.  In the evening we had a reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

How can people come in for a visit? Do you have to call ahead to reserve a time for a tour or can you browse on your own?

You should call (954) 390-0550 to schedule a tour. Our summer hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Which exhibits are being featured right now? Can you tell us a little bit about them?

We are featuring a dynamic chronological timeline exhibit which increases awareness and decreases stigma by documenting the history of HIV/AIDS. We’re remembering the people who have suffered from the disease, educating people about HIV/AIDS, enlightening the world to this continuing tragedy and empowering the survivors.

Future exhibits will include a virtual tapestry of videos highlighting the personal experiences of those affected by HIV/AIDS, and an educational center providing information about HIV/AIDS. The support group Pozitive Attitudes meets weekly for people who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

How can people donate money to ensure the museum stays open for many years to come?

First of all, we sincerely appreciate anyone who makes a financial commitment to support the museum and its programs. We are presently welcoming individuals, partners, foundations and corporations as new members.  There are several levels of membership which can be found on the museum’s website at Simply click the “donate” button on the home page, and membership choices will be explained.

Tell us about the gala that’s coming up in December. Where will it be and how can people purchase tickets?

worldaids-1 copyThe museum will be hosting its formal opening on December 2 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The event will feature a VIP reception, followed by a concert by the South Florida Symphony Orchestra.

It will be a very special evening including the honoring of physicians who work with HIV/AIDS patients. Commissioner Dean Trantalis is serving as the chair of the event, and the host committee includes over seventy prominent individuals. Tickets will go on sale in October.

The World AIDS Museum and Educational Center is located at 1201 NE 26th Street, Suite 111 in Wilton Manors. If you’d like more information about tours, December gala tickets, or how to donate to the non-profit, call (954) 390-0550. Be sure to visit their website as well, at