Skip to main content

Black/African Heritage Museums

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Zhana is a modern griot and researches, records and shares Black history facts on her Ancestral Energies blog.

Introduction

When I first wrote this article, I focused on Black museums which display art and artefacts related to the experience of African people on the Continent and in the Diaspora. However, I was sure there were many more museums that I had missed.

I recently realised the reason I had not found some of the museums was that they are not called "Black", "African" or "African American" museums. They are often called "Slavery Museums". I had not counted on this because I wanted to celebrate our heritage as a whole. However, it is obvious that slavery has formed a huge part of our experience as Africans of the Diaspora, and continues to have an impact on us to this day. Therefore, I am continuing to add more museums to this list, many of which focus specifically on the slavery experience.


Courtesy of the Muhammad Ali Center, Kentucky

Courtesy of the Muhammad Ali Center, Kentucky

History and Culture of People of African Heritage

This lens celebrates museums documenting the lives of people of African heritage all over the world. It includes museums in Africa, the United States, the Caribbean and Europe, as well as information about exhibitions and events.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It will continue to be updated.

Black Museums - Preserving the History and Culture of African People

House of the Slaves, Dakar, Senegal

House of the Slaves, Dakar, Senegal

This lens lists museums about people of African heritage and culture in the United States and all over the world.

Preserving our cultural heritage is particularly important for those of us from the African Diaspora, as our heritage was stolen from us. Recording and preserving our artefacts is an important part of the process of reclaiming our identity, our ancestral heritage and our sense of self.

It is essential that we see ourselves within the context of the international community of African people.

This lens is very much a work in progress. Keep coming back, as I will keep adding more.

Elmina Castle, Ghana

Elmina Castle, Ghana

Elmina Castle, Ghana

Elmina Castle, on the West Coast of Ghana, is a surviving example of the "slave castles", or dungeons, that once lined the coast to serve the Transatlantic trade in African people.

Each of the dungeon rooms held up to 200 people in cramped conditions. People stood in their own excrement until such time as they were taken from the dungeon.

Once they passed through the "door of no return", they were loaded onto ships to be transported across the Atlantic to slavery in the Americas. They never saw their homes again.

Elmina Castle came under the control of the British, who shut it down after Transatlantic slavery was abolished in 1834.

See below for more details.

Nigerian Relief Carving

Nigerian Relief Carving

Nigerian Relief Carving

Nigerian relief carving in the African Art National Museum of Nigeria. Beautiful, intricate work.

Museums in Africa

Many of the museums in Africa were built by the colonizers and celebrate the exploits of those who invaded and settled in Africa. The museums often reflect the interests and concerns of the colonizers. This article seeks to focus on museums that preserve the history and culture of African people.

This is an international list and the museums here are listed in alphabetical order by country.

  • National Museum of Music (Burkina Faso) | Music In Africa
    The National Museum of Music is located in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in a two-story building on Oubritenga Avenue on the south side of the Phillipe Zinda Kabore School. The building once housed the Association for the Development of African Architect
  • Botswana National Museum
    Opened in 1968, the Botswana National Museum aims at creating in Batswana and everyone an interest in Botswana's diverse cultural heritage. Located at the heart of Gaborone City, it is a delightful compound of museum and gallery, which preserves and
  • Elmina Castle, Ghana
    Elmina Castle was the first slave dungeon established by the Europeans in Africa. Built by the Portuguese in 1482 off the coast of Ghana, it held enslaved African people for up to two years. Elmina means "mine" and there is still a mine there today.
  • Nairobi National Museum, Kenya
    was initiated in 1910 by the then East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society [currently the East African Natural History Society (EANHS)]. The group consisted mainly of colonial settlers and naturalists who needed a place to keep and preserve th
  • National Museums of Kenya
    The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is a state corporation established by an Act of Parliament, the National Museums and Heritage Act, 2006 no. 6 of 2006. NMK is a multi-disciplinary institution whose role is to collect, preserve, study, document and
  • Museums of Namibia
    Namibia has many active museums as well as a growing number of art galleries and craft centres. Most of the country's towns have them in one form or another, proving a popular venue for Namibians and foreign visitors alike. Each collection has a dist
  • Hai Hab Cultural Village, Namibia
    The cultural village is a converted property in Mondesa, Swakopmund, which contains a restaurant where tourists can taste local food and a cultural atmosphere is created by a clay hut and the decoration of the hut and the surrounding area
  • Keetmanshoop Museum, Namibia
    The museum ontains a display about Nama history and culture with a detailed display of local plants and their traditional uses by the Nama community.
  • Mafwe Living Museum, Namibia
    The `living museum' was established in February 2008 by the Living Cultures Foundation of Namibia. It provides tourists with the opportunity to taste local food and experience traditional activities such as making a fishing net in a `demonstration' c
  • Museums of Nigeria
    This page lists several dozen Nigerian museums.
  • South African Museum | Iziko
    The South African Museum was founded in 1825. The South African Museum traces the material cultural heritage of our indigenous populations back to their earliest origins, and the research collections are studied by scientists and students world-wide
  • The Apartheid Museum, South Africa
    The Apartheid Museum, the first of its kind, illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid. Starting in 1948, the white elected National Party government implemented the policy of apartheid which turned 20 million people into second class citizens, dam
  • The Nelson Mandela National Museum
    Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country.
  • The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum
    The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, formerly the King George VI Art Gallery, was opened on 22 June 1956 and renamed in December 2002. The Art Museum is a registered institutional member of the IIC ( International Institute for Conservation).
  • Margate Art Museum, South Africa
    Margate Art Museum Opened in 1994 and is one of five municipal art galleries in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. It operates within a large region that is mostly rural and incorporates several popular coastal towns. The museum consists of the main gall
  • Zambia Museums
    This site lists several museums in Zambia.

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

The DuSable Museum in Chicago, IL commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. See below for details.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History

President Obama at the Groundbreaking

President Obama at the Groundbreaking

The National Museum of African American History and Culture was created in 2003 by an Act of Congress, establishing it as part of the Smithsonian Institution. President Obama spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.

United States - Black/African Heritage Museums in the United States

Documenting and celebrating the history and culture of African American people. These museums are listed in alphabetical order by State.

How many of these have you visited? Please leave your comments in the comments section below.


  • Alabama State Black Archives
    In 1987, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill establishing the State Black Archives Research Center & Museum. Exhibits include Black Women: Achievement Against The Odds, which features photos of Black women from a range of occupations including
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Alabama)
    The Mission of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is to promote civil and human rights throughout the world.
  • EMOBA - The Museum of Black Arkansas and Performing Arts Centre (Arkansas)
    EMOBA began as a dream. Ernie Dodson is the founder and director of the museum of black Arkansans and performing arts center. Her dream is to provide a true representation of the contributions to Arkansas' heritage and future by the Afro-American com
  • Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (Arkansas)
    The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) was founded as the Mosaic Templars of America Center for African American Culture and Business Enterprise under Act 1176 of 2001. MTCC was created as a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and it ho
  • The African American Art and Culture Complex (California)
    The African American Art and Culture Complex (AAACC) is a community based 501c3 nonprofit arts and cultural organization. Our mission is to nurture and facilitate the empowerment of our community through Afro-centric artistic and cultural expression,
  • African American Museum & Library at Oakland (California)
    The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations.
  • Antelope Valley African American Museum (California)
    Regular historical exhibits on African kings, the process of weaving Kente cloth and the contributions of important African Americans. Admission: Donations accepted.
  • California African American Museum
    Current exhibits include Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment. For more about this, see: Black History/Cultural Events.
  • Museum of the African Diaspora (California)
    The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that was conceived as a cornerstone of the economic and cultural revitalization of downtown San Francisco. Since it opened in December 2005, MoAD has become an
  • The Black American West Museum (Colorado)
    The Black American West Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating the contributions of Blacks in the Old West. While famous for telling the story of Black cowboys, we are broader than this with interests in the stories of all t
  • The African American Museum of Art (Florida)
    Founded in 1994 and located in historic DeLand, Florida, AAMA is a unique and vital resource in this part of Florida. It is the only museum in the area devoted primarily to African American cultures and art.
  • The John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History and Culture (Florida)
    The Riley House is a historical and cultural gem that sits at the bottom of a hill in downtown Tallahassee, at the corner of Meridian and Jefferson Streets.
  • The APEX Museum (Atlanta, Georgia)
    The APEX (African American Panoramic Experience) Museum "Where Every Month is Black History Month" The mission pf The APEX Museum is to accurately interpret and present history from an African American perspective in order to help all American and I
  • Bronzeville Children's Museum, (Illinois)
    This is billed as "the first and only African American children's museum in the country". The museum was founded on August 20, 1993. Named after Bronzeville, where African Americans settled in Chicago after coming from the South. In this area, they c
  • The DuSable Museum (Illinois)
    The DuSable Museum of African American History located in the historic Hyde Park area of Chicago at 740 East 56th Place (57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue) in Washington Park unites art, history and culture. Founded in 1961 by teacher and a
  • "Kin Killin' Kin" at the DuSable
    KKK - "Kin Killin' Kin" is a powerful and thought-provoking series of images that reflect artists James Pate's deep love and even greater concern for the epidemic of youth violence in the African American community. If he were a singer, he would sing
  • The African American Museum of Iowa
    The heritage of African Americans in Iowa was in danger of being lost without major efforts to preserve it. In 1994, a small group from Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids began the project in celebration of Black History Month. The m
  • Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site (Kansas)
    Run by the Department of the Interior. The site is currently closed due to the U.S. government shutdown.
  • About Us | The Kansas African American Museum
    The Kansas African American Museum, formerly the venerable Calvary Baptist Church was once the cornerstone of Wichita's vibrant black community. It was built in 1917 when the congregation's leaders worked nights and weekends -separate and apart from
  • Home - Muhammad Ali Center | Be Great :: Do Great Things
    For many years, Muhammad Ali has dreamed of "creating a place to share, teach, and inspire people to be their best and to pursue their dreams." In 1997, the Muhammad Ali Center was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a 501(c)3 corporation
  • Arna Wendell Bontemps Museum (Louisiana)
    The Arna Bontemps African American Museum and Cultural Arts Center was founded in 1988 by the Arna Bontemps Foundation, Incorporated, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. The organization was formed through the Division of Community Affairs, Office
  • The River Road African American Museum (Louisiana)
    The River Road African American Museum, located in the historic district of Donaldsonville, Louisiana is the premier facilitiy in the South to focus on the history and heritage of African Americans along the Mississippi River.
  • The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
    The museum shares courageous journeys toward freedom and self-determination by African American Marylanders. Museum leaders develop exhibitions and educational programs that paint pictures of African American struggles and accomplishments.
  • Museum of African American History (Massachusetts)
    Museum of African American History (Boston, Massachusetts) FREEDOM IS RISING IN 2013 Big things are coming in 2013 with Freedom Rising, a new exhibition and yearlong programming commem-orating the Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation a
  • The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Michigan)
    The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 315 East Warren Detroit, Michigan American History. We house a large collection of manuscripts and artifacts including photographs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and rare books that
  • The Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City (Missouri)
    The Black Archives of Mid-America, located in Kansas City, Missouri, is a center for learning and research into the African American experience in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and the Midwest at large.
  • The Black World History Wax Museum (Missouri)
    Lois D Conley founded this fascinating place to experience African American history in 1997; life-size wax figures of Dred and Harriet Scott, George Washington Carver, Josephine Baker, John Barry Meacham, Madame CJ Walker and Miles Davis awaken your
  • The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York)
    The Studio Museum in Harlem is the nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally and internationally and for work that has been inspired and influenced by Black culture. It is a site for the dynamic exchange of ideas about art and society.
  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)
    Founded in 1976 in celebration of the nation's Bicentennial, the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is the first institution funded and built by a major municipality to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage of African Americans. Th
  • The National Civil Rights Museum (Tennessee)
    The National Civil Rights Museum was birthed out of the success of the civil rights movement and the tragic violence that occurred at the Lorraine Motel, taking the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The aftershock of the assassination on April 4,
  • The African American Museum (Texas)
    For more than 25 years, the African American Museum has stood as a cultural beacon in Dallas and the Southwestern United States. Started in 1974 as a part of the Bishop College Special Collection, the Museum has operated independently since 1979.
  • Alexandria Black History Museum (Virginia)
    The mission of the Black History Museum is to enrich the lives of Alexandria's residents and visitors, to foster tolerance and understanding among all cultures and to stimulate appreciation of the diversity of the African American experience. The in
  • The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (Washington, D.C.)
    The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Run by the Department of the Interior. Currently closed as a result of the U.S. government shutdown.
  • Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum (Washington, D.C.)
    Traditionally, a major goal of the Museum has been to provide visitors with material evidence of the African American experience from a community perspective, while underscoring the idea that the things that make people distinctly different are also
  • Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (Washington, D.C.)
    The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established in 2003 by an Act of Congress, making it the 19th Smithsonian Institution museum. The National Portrait Gallery’s “One Life: Martin Luther King Jr.” exhibition highlights
  • America's Black Holocaust Museum (Wisconsin)
    America's Black Holocaust Museum was founded in 1984 in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, storefront by Dr. James Cameron, the only known survivor of a lynching. In 1988 Cameron acquired a spacious free-standing building, where the he expanded ABHM’s exhibits,

Great Stuff on Amazon

Caribbean - Black/African Heritage Museums in the Caribbean

Marcus Garvey Museum Video

Black History Studies visits the Marcus Garvey Museum in Kingston, Jamaica

Europe - Black/African Heritage Museums in Europe

  • Slavery Museum, Liverpool
    Hear the untold stories of enslaved people and learn about historical and contemporary slavery. Explore the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade as well as slavery in the modern day, racism and discrimination.
  • Slavery and Revolution | Slavery and Remembrance
    Through sites and objects from across the globe, Slavery and Remembrance aims to broaden our understandings of a shared and painful past, the ways in which we collectively remember and forget, and the power of legacies to shape our present and future
  • Wilberforce House Museum: Antislavery Usable Past
    This archive collects the visual culture and narratives of contemporary antislavery, as well as heritage and public history projects that grapple with past and present slavery and antislavery. Its collections are a resource for understanding cultures

Please see below for more articles on Black history and culture.

Black History International

Black History International
This article contains four polls and two Black history quizzes. Loads of books and some audio interviews with Zhana.

Go here for African history quizzes and Black history quizzes.

London Black History Walks

London Black History Walks have been chosen by the Guardian as one of the Ten Best Guided Walks in London. For more info, see the Resources section below.

Go here for a recent interview with Brother Tony Warner of London Black History Walks - Does Black History Matter?

African Superhero

African Superhero, London Black History Walks

African Superhero, London Black History Walks

Kwanzaa Celebration

black-museums

Kwanzaa - Celebrating Traditional Africa Values

Kwanzaa - Celebrating Traditional African Values
Videos explaining Kwanzaa and much more. Kwanzaa is observed by people of African heritage all over the world from December 26 through January 1.

Have You Visited a Black Museum? - Please share your experiences of Black museums.

Zhana (author) on October 04, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks so much for sharing this lens! I really appreciate it. You might also be interested in the FB page for America's Black Holocaust Museum.

Takkhis on January 02, 2013:

Very informative lens, thanks for sharing.

anonymous on September 03, 2012:

Shared this with a friend on Facebook. Also posted it to my Pinterest board for Mother Africa. http://pinterest.com/pin/183943966001413165/

Zhana (author) on September 17, 2011:

@dellgirl: Thank you so much for your comment, Dellgirl. I wish you a brilliant weekend, too.

dellgirl on September 16, 2011:

I love your lens. Its very inspiring, thanks for sharing.

Im just stopping in to say Hi and to wish you a wonderful Weekend

Related Articles