Dr. Dwight McKenna has been practicing medicine in New Orleans ever since he graduated from Howard University. Almost immediately he began collecting art work from African American artists. In the late 90s, Dr. McKenna purchased a blighted property at 2003-05 Carondelet Street. He had the house renovated by local African-American master carpenters, and in 2003 he moved his private art collection into the beautifully restored mansion and founded the George & Leah McKenna Museum of African American Art. (Although closed after Katrina, the museum re-opened in 2008.)
The George & Leah McKenna Museum is named in honor of Dr. McKenna’s parents. George Joachim McKenna, Jr. (born in 1911 in New Orleans) was Chair of the Economic and Sociology Departments at his alma mater Xavier University in Louisiana. His wife, Leah Metoyer McKenna, also attended Xavier where she received both B.A. and M.A. degrees with highest honors. She was appointed principal at Rivers Frederick Junior High School in 1954, making her the first black female principal of a racially-integrated secondary school in New Orleans. Both George and Leah McKenna dedicated their lives to educating others and the pursuit of excellence. It was this same spirit of achievement and community involvement that was passed down to their three sons, Doctors George III, Dwight and Stephen McKenna.