The African American museums in the United States focus mainly on the history and culture of the African American people. The museums were created with a mission of collecting and preserving African-derived culture and history. The Collage Museum was the first African American museum in the US, established in 1868 in Hampton, Virginia. Today, there are 109 such museums across the country. Here are some of the notable museums within the US focused on African American history.
Notable African American Museums
Slave Mart Museum
The Old Slave Mart Museum has been operating since 1938, making it the oldest existing African America museum in the US. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the Old Slave Mart was a slave auctioning gallery. The building was constructed in 1859 and is considered as the last slave auction facility in the state of South Carolina. Miriam B Wilson purchased the building in 1938 and established a museum which initially displayed African-American art. The Old Slave Mart was purchased and restored by the City of Charleston in the 1990s and now interprets the history of the slave trade in the city.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The Smithsonian’s NMAAHC in Washington DC is the largest African American museum in the US. After years of efforts to have an African-American museum owned by the federal government, the museum was established in 2003 but was opened to the public in 2016. The building covers an area of approximately 350,000 square feet and has 10 floors (five below and five above the ground). It has a collection of about 40,000 objects but only 3,500 objects are on display.
African American Museum in Philadelphia
The African American Museum in Philadelphia was the first to be funded and built by a major city to preserve and display the heritage of the African American people. Apart from sharing stories on how the African Americans contributed to the founding of America, it also has exhibits for children to help them learn about the daily lives of the Philadelphian’s children during slavery. The AAMP is located a few meters away from the Liberty Bell and was opened in 1976. It has an auditorium and four galleries. The exhibitions in the museum are centered on three dominant themes; the Philadelphia Story, the African Diaspora, and the Contemporary Narrative.
National Voting Rights Museum
The National Voting Rights Museum is located in Selma, Alabama and was opened to the public in 1993. It is situated near the Edmund Pettus Bridge which was an important site for the Voting Rights Movement. The museum contains exhibits and testimonies of activists who took part in the events that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Acts of 1965.
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is located around the site of the famous Lorraine Motel the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr took place. the Memphis-based museum was opened in 1991 and contains exhibits that showcase the history of civil rights movement in the US. The NCRM became a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum in October 2016.
States by Number of African American Museums
Only 33 states in the US have African American museums. With 10 museums, Florida has the highest number of African American museums, followed by Alabama and Louisiana with 8 such museums each. Maryland and New York have 7 African American museums. California (6), Georgia (6), Texas (5), and Virginia (5) also have a notable number of the museums.