For more than 50 years, African-American museums have made it their primary mission to preserve and educate visitors from around the world on the history of African-Americans and their ancestors.
So whether you are planning your next family vacation or you just want to learn more about African-American heritage, no matter what time of year, we’ve got you covered.
theGrio researched 10 African-American museum spots, all of whom illustrate the courageous lives and selfless contributions of African-Americans—from the early slavery days and modern times—how they managed to persevere with the help of faith, culture and artistic expression and how their legacy continues to thrive.
Check them out.
Du Sable Museum of African-American History
Chicago, Founded 1957
Located in the great city of Chicago the Du Sable Museum of African-American History is one of the oldest museum establishments dedicated to the study and conservation of African-American history, culture and art. This spring the museum is expected to usher in the new exhibit The Black Panthers: Making Sense of History, celebrating 40 years since the party was first founded. The exhibit will feature more than 50 historic photographs illustrating the history of the party and its impact on African-American culture.
Located in the heart of New England, the Museum of African-American History in Boston has become one of the city’s most hailed institutions. Among the museum’s unique features is a walking tour (there’s an interactive online version too) called the Black Heritage Trail, which explores the history of Boston’s 19th century African-American community. Guests will also have a rare opportunity to visit The Abiel Smith School, known as the first publicly funded schoolhouse in the country for African-American children (1835).
Charles Wright Museum of African-American History
Detroit, Founded 1965
Detroit may be known as the “Motor City,” but among the African-American community the Charles Wright Museum of African American History is a key destination spot. One of its most prominent exhibits is And Still We Rise: Our Journey through African American History and Culture where patrons will experience 22,000 square feet of more than 20 galleries outlining the lives of African slaves and their journey through present-day Detroit.
African-American Museum of Philadelphia
Known for their Annual Heritage Gala, the African-American Museum of Philadelphia is the city’s landmark establishment featuring several exhibits including Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776-1876, which consists of two galleries including an interactive timeline with historical illustrations exemplifying their vast contributions to the environment, education and religion.
California African American Museum
Los Angeles, Founded 1981
Los Angeles might be nicknamed as the “City of Angels,” but for many within the African-American community, the city is best known for the California African American Museum, which is home to an eclectic range of exhibits such as Harlem of the West which explores Jazz, Bebop and Beatnik clubs of the 1940s, 50 and 60s in San Francisco’s Fillmore District and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, an exhibit that captures the choreography, costumes and dancers from the historic Harlem theatre scene.
National Great Blacks in Wax Museum
Baltimore, Founded 1983
With its life-size wax figures, the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum could rival Madame Tussauds thanks to its extensive collection of African-American pioneers from all walks of life – consisting of everyone from prominent blacks enlisted in the military, human rights activist Malcolm X, to female abolitionists like Sojourner Truth.
National Civil Rights Museum
Memphis, Founded 1987
Patrons will experience the awe-inspiring National Civil Rights Museum, located at the infamous and now former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Among its humbling exhibits is its recreation of the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in which civil rights organizers sponsored one of the largest peaceful demonstrations where approximately 250,000 people participated.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Kansas City, Founded 1990
Avid baseball fans are in for a one-of-a-kind experience when visiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museums. Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the museum is 10,000 square feet of hundreds of photographs, never-before-seen film exhibits, and collections, including several bronze sculptures of African-American baseball pioneers.
African Burial Ground National Monument
Manhattan, Founded 1993
When visiting this U.S. National Park located in Lower Manhattan, patrons will not only have the opportunity to experience a 90-minute walking tour that begins on the steps of the Federal Hall National Memorial and ends at the African Burial Ground National Monument Memorial highlighting how slaves impacted New York City society as we know it, but guests will also get to explore the museum’s visitor center containing several exhibits and artifacts.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Cincinnati, Founded 2004
When people want to learn about the events that took place inside the Underground Railroad where thousands of slaves escaped to freedom, they turn to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center located in Cincinnati. From Slavery to Freedom, just one its many exhibits, chronicles three centuries of slavery beginning with its inception to its fall, illustrating how slaves lived and how they were eventually became free.