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Explore Civil Rights Artifacts and Stories at African American Museums


Discover the profound impact and enduring legacy at African-American Museums, the gateways to understanding the rich cultural heritage of African Americans. These museums are not just about viewing artifacts; they are immersive experiences into the lives and struggles of Black men and women through pivotal moments in history—from the harrowing times of the slave trade, emancipation, and reconstruction, to the challenges of segregation, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance Eras, right up to the present day.


African American Museums across the United States, from historical African American museums to African American art and culture museums, offer a comprehensive documentation of the African-American experience both nationally and globally. They stand as testaments to the resilience and contributions of people of African descent, who, alongside allies, have served as abolitionists, activists, and historians to elevate the narratives of African-American women, men, and children.


Often, the history of African Americans and Black Americans is either misrepresented or remains unknown. By visiting these museums, you can delve into the richness and diversity of Black history and power, much of which is typically only spotlighted during Black History Month. Whether it’s exploring the best African American museums in the US, engaging with civil rights movement exhibitions, or appreciating African diaspora artifacts, each visit offers a unique opportunity to learn and reflect.


From the Black History Museum to the Black Wax Museum, these institutions are vital in preserving and showcasing the multifaceted aspects of African American heritage. They are not just places of learning but are also spaces where the legacy of African American history and its influence on American culture is celebrated and honored.


The information in this article is as current as the publication date. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information before acting.


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Alabama State Black Archives Research Center and Museum

Huntsville, Alabama 35811
Located in the Wilson Building on the Alabama A&M University campus. The State Black Archives Research Center and Museum has attracted numerous exhibits from around the nation.


Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham, Alabama 35203
Part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and a cultural and educational research center. The institute promotes a comprehensive understanding of the significance of the Civil Rights Act and developments in Birmingham.


George W. Carver Interpretive Museum

Dothan, Alabama 36303
Dr. Francina Williams turned what used to be Dothan’s bus station into a thriving Museum. The Carver has served as a rich source of African American History since 2000.


National Memorial for Peace & Justice

Montgomery, Alabama 36104
The nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people. Focuses on the people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color.


National Voting Rights Museum and Institute

Selma, Alabama 36701
The cornerstone of the contemporary struggle for voting rights and human dignity. It is located in the Historic District of Selma, Alabama, at the scene of Bloody Sunday.





California African American Museum

Los Angeles, California 90037
A sustained, multi-year campaign of activism undertaken by visionary founders and community members.


Museum of the African Diaspora

San Francisco, California 94105
Featuring African Diaspora culture, presenting the rich cultural heritage of the people of Africa and African descendant cultures globally.





Black American West Museum

Denver, Colorado 80205
Founded initially to tell the story of Black Cowboys, the museum has widened its scope. It tells the stories of those early Blacks who came west.


District of Columbia


National Museum of African American History and Culture

NW Washington, DC 20560
A cultural center to collect, preserve, and educate the public on the history and traditions of African Americans.


The HBCU Museum

NW Washington, DC 20012
Highlights the accomplishments of Historically Black Colleges & Universities and some of their most accomplished graduates.





John G. Riley House & Museum

Tallahassee, FL 32301
A historical and cultural gem in downtown Tallahassee, at the corner of Meridian and Jefferson Streets.





African American Panoramic Experience Museum

Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Tells the story of people of the African Diaspora, providing a complete view of African and African-American history and culture.


Center for Civil & Human Rights

Atlanta, Georgia 30313
Educates visitors on the bridge between the American Civil Rights Movement and the contemporary struggle for Human Rights worldwide.





DuSable Museum of African American History

Chicago, Illinois 60637
Promotes an appreciation of African Americans’ achievements, contributions, and experiences. Has exhibits, programs, and activities illustrating African and African American history, culture, and art.


Pullman Porter Museum

Chicago, Illinois 60628
Promotes, honors, and celebrates the legacy of A. Philip Randolph, Pullman Porters, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Highlights contributions made by African Americans to America’s labor movement, with a significant focus on the African-American Railroad Employee.





Evansville African American Museum

Evansville, Indiana 47713
A resource and cultural center to collect, preserve, and educate the public on the history and traditions of African Americans.


Madam Walker Legacy Center

Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
Empowers, educates, entertains, and uses its historic building to celebrate cultural diversity. Displays rich heritages and cultural traditions, primarily through art from the African-American perspective.





African American Museum of Iowa

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A statewide museum dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and teaching Iowa’s African American history.





Muhammad Ali Center

Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Three levels of award-winning exhibits about Muhammad Ali’s legendary life. Reflects upon one’s own values, inner strength, character, and what makes you the most extraordinary person you can be.





Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum

Hammond, Louisiana 70403
A comprehensive collection of African American murals, artifacts, photographs, and artwork that tell our story.


New Orleans African American Museum

New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Once home to the nation’s largest, most prosperous, and politically progressive community of blacks by the mid-1850s.


Whitney Plantation

Wallace, Louisiana 70049
The only plantation museum in Louisiana focused on slavery with exhibits, memorial artwork, and restored buildings. Includes hundreds of first-person slave narratives. Visitors will gain a unique perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people.





Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Museum

Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Chronicles the saga of Frederick Douglass’ life in Baltimore as an enslaved child and young man.


Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Collecting, preserving, interpreting, documenting, and exhibiting the rich contributions of African-American Marylanders.

The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum

Baltimore, Maryland 21213
The nation’s first wax museum of African American history stimulates an interest in African-American history by revealing the little-known, often-neglected facts.


Museum of African American History

Nantucket and Boston, Maryland 02114
Nationally and internationally known for its collection of historic sites in Boston and Nantucket.



Related Article: OTR Cincinnati and the recurring history of racial tensions and economic divide.





Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Detroit, Michigan 48201
Over 35,000 artifacts and archival materials. Home to the Blanche Coggin Underground Railroad Collection, Harriet Tubman Museum Collection, Coleman A. Young Collection and the Sheffield Collections.


Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum

Detroit, Michigan 48209
A place to record Americans’ contributions to our nation’s defense. Where youth may come to acquire inspiration, counseling, and assistance in achieving excellence in their own educational and career pursuits.





Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture

Natchez, Missouri 39120
A certified retirement community and Main Street community is known for historic preservation.


American Jazz Museum

Kansas City, Missouri
Showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films, the Changing Gallery exhibit space, Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center, Blue Room jazz club, and Gem Theater.


Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Kansas City, Missouri 64108
The 18th & Vine historic district was the center for black culture in Kansas City around the 1900s. It was the hub of activity for homeowners, businesses, jazz music, and baseball enthusiasts. Just outside the district stands the Paseo YMCA building, built like a black YMCA in 1914.


The Griot Museum of Black History

St. Louis, Missouri 63106
Uses life-size wax figures, other art, artifacts, and memorabilia to interpret the stories of African Americans. Focuses on subjects with a regional connection who have contributed to our country’s development.



North Carolina


Harvey Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture

Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Celebrates the contributions of Africans and African Americans to American culture. Serves as a community epicenter for the arts and community outreach.


International Civil Rights Center & Museum

Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
An archival center devoted to the international struggle for civil and human rights. Celebrates the nonviolent protests of the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins that started the civil rights movement.





Great Plains Black History Museum

Omaha, Nebraska, 68110
Dedicated to publicizing and preserving the achievements of the region’s vibrant African-American heritage.



New York


African Burial Ground Museum

New York, New York 10573
The oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. Honors both the spirit of those buried and those who fought for the protection of the site for future generations.





National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Rooted in the stories of the Underground Railroad – Illuminates the true meaning of inclusive freedom. Presents exhibits that inspire, programming that provokes dialogue, and educational resources to inform.


The Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center

Dayton, Ohio 45402
This home was established for the legacy of Funk music artists and memorabilia to educate the public.


National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center

Wilberforce, OH 45384
The permanent home of one of the nation’s largest collections of Afro-American materials. Home to more than 9,000 artifacts and artwork, 350 manuscript collections, and thousands of photographs.





African American Museum of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
Objectively interpreted and presented the achievements and aspirations of African Americans from pre-colonial times to the current day. Committed to telling the story in all its permutations.


The Colored Girls Museum

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19144
A memoir museum that honors the stories, experiences, and history of Colored Girls.


August Wilson Center for African American Culture

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222
A multi-purpose venue featuring art galleries, performance spaces, and unique educational classrooms for all ages.



South Carolina


Old Slave Mart

Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Believed to be the last extant slave auction facility in South Carolina that once housed an antebellum slave auction gallery.





Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul

Memphis, Tennessee 38103
The birth of Rock and Soul music. Tells the story of musical pioneers who overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to make music that shook the world.


National Civil Rights Museum

Memphis, Tennessee 38103
The site of Martin Luther King’s assassination at the Lorraine Hotel, with an exhibit that follows the civil rights movement.


Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Memphis, Tennessee 38126
Pays special tribute to American soul legends with a rare and fantastic collection of more than 2,000 artifacts.

National Museum of African American Music

Nashville, Tennessee 37219
From classical to country to jazz and hip hop, this interactive museum shares the untold story of music genres.





African American Museum, Dallas

Dallas, Texas 75210
Dedicated to researching, identifying, selecting, acquiring, presenting, and preserving visual art forms and historical documents related to the African American community.


Buffalo Soldiers National Museum

Houston, Texas 77004
The only museum in the country dedicated to the legacy of the men and women who fought for America.





Alexandria Black History Museum

Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Documents Black America’s local and national history, culture, and contributions at America’s first sin-in-strike site. Home to leaders of the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and more.





Northwest African American Museum

Seattle, Washington, 98144
Focuses on African Americans whose route to the New World was through slavery and recent immigrants arriving from African nations.



Related Article: Public Art and History Tours for African Americans in Cincinnati



No matter one’s age, everyone will walk away with a refreshed outlook and respect for the history of our culture. If there are African American Museums to visit that we have missed, let us know at The Voice of Black Cincinnati.



Written by: Crystal Kendrick


The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans. Want to find local news, events, job postings, scholarships, and a database of local Black-owned businesses? Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and text VOBC to 513-270-3880.


African American Museums to Visit photo provided by © [rocketclips] /Adobe Stock

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Written by Crystal Kendrick

Publisher, The Voice of Black Cincinnati