25 Museums and tours featuring Black cultural contributions

5 mins read

So what, Black History is over. We know that exploring the impact and contributions of Blacks in the US goes beyond a month. Indulge and explore these great museums archiving incredible histories.

1. National Museum of African American History

Washington DC

The only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture, the 36,000 artifacts start with Africans coming on slave ships to hip hop. It is a must visit in DC. By the way, Washington DC was saved by former slaver, Benjamin Bannekar who was hired as a surveyor. When the original blueprint was destroyed in a fire, Banneker used his photographic memory to redraw the plans.

2. Egypt on the Potomac

Washington DC

A three-hour guided tour uncovering aspects of African mythology, African American, American, and Washington DC history, this tour often sells out. In the tour, you will see evidence of ancient Egyptian architecture, symbolism and philosophy that has been embedded in various monuments throughout the city …literally hidden in plain sight. 

3. African American Museum of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 1976 in celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial, the African American Museum in Philadelphia chronicles the many waves of Blacks who came to Philly, and the contributions in forming one a major urban hub in the US.

4. California African American Museum

Los Angeles, CA

A medium-sized exhibition space on the perimeter of Downtown Los Angeles, this museum archives the experience of Blacks in California and the western United States. The legend has it that California was named after an indigenous Black queen named Califa. Eventually, her nation was destroyed and overran by Spanish and British explorers, but there’s still Cali love in the area.

Nearby are the California Science Museum and Exposition Park Rose Garden. A must see and explore.

5. International African American Museum

Charleston, SC

After 20 years of planning, this museum holds much of the Black experience in the US. It is the site of Gadsden’s Wharf, a place where the disembarkation point of up to 40% of all American slaves, once stood.

National Museum of African American History in Washington DC

6. Reginald F. Lewis Museum

Baltimore, MA

Named after the first Black billionaire in the US, the RF Lewis museum provides dynamic educational programs for both children and adults. Located in Downtown Baltimore, the Museum’s education department has developed an African American curricula and provided teacher training that is invaluable to Maryland’s  850,000 students and 50,000 teachers.

One of its permanent collections is the Stearns Family slave documents that provide insight on the international relationships forged through slavery. For example, the correspondence between US and Rio de Janeiro Consuls on the African slave trade in 1860, one year before the US Civil War.

7. African American Art and Cultural Complex

San Francisco, CA

Dedicated to encouraging, supporting and promoting the work of aspiring Bay Area artists and developing partnerships with like-minded organizations, this center is located in the historic Fillmore Jazz District, and is one of the premier African American arts and cultural institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

8. The Buffalo Soldier National Museum

Houston, TX

Displaying the stories and contributions of African Americans in the military by way of performing and visual arts, educational programming, and exhibitions, the collections are dope, and so is its monthly, BLK MRKT vendor event.

9. African American Civil War Museum

Washington DC

Launched to tell the largely untold and incorrect history of the Colored Troops who served in the military during the Civil War, the museum ells the stories and preserves for posterity the historic roles these brave men of African, European, and Hispanic descent played in ending slavery and keeping America united under one flag.  

In doing so, the Museum uses a rich collection of artifacts, documents, primary sources and technology to create a meaningful learning experience for families, students, Civil War enthusiasts and historians about the period from the American Civil War to Civil Rights and beyond.

10. African American Museum of the Arts

DeLand, FL

The only museum in Central Florida dedicated primarily to African American cultures and art, the modest one-house museum holds artifacts capturing the rich diasporic culture existence in Black Florida.

Harriet Tubman Museum, Baltimore, MD.

11. Black American West Museum

Denver, Colorado

A house museum covering the Black experience in Denver, it carries a quaint, but important collection.

12. Harriet Tubman Museum

Cambridge, MD

Known for its picture of Harriet Tubman on the wall of the building, the museum offers exhibits and a short film about Tubman’s life.

13. National Civil Rights Museum 

Memphis, Tennessee

Erected at the site where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated, the museum is actually a complex of historic buildings in Memphis, Tennessee. With exhibitions tracing the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 17th century to the present, the exhibition space is a a self-guided so that visitors can experience oral histories, films and interactive components at their own pace.

14. National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Montgomery, AL

Be prepared to cry and go within. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence. 

15. River Road African American Museum

Donaldsonville, LA

Located in the downtown historic district of Donaldsonville, just moments away from the Mississippi River, the museum captures the spirit, soul, and significance of the people who thrived and enriched south Louisiana’s sugarcane country.

16. National Blues Museum

St. Louis, MO

This institution explores and preserves the historic significance of the Blues as the foundation of American music, celebrates the genre’s various styles and recognizes the musicians who created, sustain, and continue to advance the art form.

17. The Newsome House

Newport News, VA 

Named after , respected 19th Century lawyer, journalist, church leader and civic leader, the house museum engages the public in an ongoing study and remembrance of African American history and culture.

18. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Kansas City, MO

Baseball is as American as apple pie. So is the Negro League and its history. The museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its profound impact on the social advancement of America. Currently, the exhibition features cigar box guitars used by blues musicians.

National Negro League museum, Kansas City, Missouri.

19. Pullman Porter Museum

Chicago, Illinois

Paying tribute to one of the most influential African-American leaders in history, the museum is named after A. Philip Randolph, an African American freedom fighter who redefined American labor, American democracy, and American society, during a time when it was unsafe and unpopular. Randolph demanded African-Americans be fully and equally included in American society.

20. Northwest African American Museum

Seattle, WA

This place is dope. Named one of 15 museums across the country named a finalist for the National Medal for Museum Service Award given by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, it tells the stories and histories, arts and cultures of people of African descent.

21. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Cincinnati, Ohio

Situated in downtown Cincinnati, the museum reveals stories of freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times.

22. African American Research Library and Cultural Center

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

A 60,000-square-foot public library archiving books on Black history and culture, and books written by Black authors, it is a state-of-the-art facility for research, life-long learning, community gatherings, cultural events and technology training. You can also hold events there.

23. Delta Blues Museum

Clarksdale, MS

A mainstay that celebrates and explores the heritage of the unique American musical art form of the blues, it offers a native and local narrative how the Blues evolved into the central musical genre and culture in the US.

24. Jim Crow Museum

Big Rapids, MI

Collecting objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice, it archives. However, the focus is to exhibit and preserve objects and collections related to racial segregation, anti-black caricatures, civil rights, and African American achievement.

25. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Detroit, MI

Located in Detroit’s midtown area, the museum holds the world’s largest permanent exhibit on African-American culture. Moved three times as it outgrew its facilities, it holds over 35,000 artifacts. In 2005, civil rights icon Rosa Parks lied in repose in the Wright Museum’s rotunda. The museum said 700,000 paid their respects.

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1 Comment

  1. There’s also quite a bit you’ve missed in New England. Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, The Robbins House in Concord, MA, The Clemons Farm in Vermont, Museum of African American History in Boston, MA; African Am Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard; New Bedford Historical Society, New Bedford, MA; Upper Housatonic Valley Trail featuring WEB DuBois home, Clinton Church Restoration project in Great Barrington; Center for Reconciliation in Providence, RI; Abyssinian Meeting House, Portland, Maine; Parting Ways Cemetery at 1749 Court House Museum in Plymouth, MA, Royall House & Slave Quarters, Medford MA; God’s Little Acre, Providence, RI; Paul Cuffe Trail in Westport, MA; Af/Am Trail Project at Tufts University in Medford, MA.

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