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Few family attractions are more important than Top Black Museums



by Thomas Dorsey, SoulOfAmerica

   Frequent SoulOfAmerica visitors recall that in 2008 we published a list of 10 Top Black Museums that best engage us with art, culture and historical snapshots, artifacts and new media experiences. The Black Museum world has expanded and upgraded so much that we are now compelled to double the list. The welcome trend of specialization by new museums reveals a maturity and depth of perspectives about the Black Experience in America that every cultural traveler can appreciate. Enhancements to older Black Museum galleries also merit a fresh look.

   More traveling exhibits are making the rounds to and near these museums. None bolder than America I Am: The African American Imprint, which in many ways, was a compilation of some of the best Black Museum features nationwide. It was developed in partnership between Tavis Smiley, Arts and Exhibitions International, and Cincinnati Museum Center. The scalable 12-20,000 square foot exhibition included more than 200 artifacts, such as the doors to the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, Alex Haley’s typewriter used to write Roots, the personal effects of Malcolm X, the door key and stool from the Birmingham jail cell that held Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., sports memorabilia from Michael Jordan, Arthur Ashe and Muhammad Ali, items from Michael Jackson and Prince, and much more.

   Collectively, these museums and traveling exhibits reveal African Americans’ view of America, how other Americans viewed African Americans, and how America can become a better nation for all people. For that reason, travelers of all stripes should visit these museums for their social & historical importance, grand scale, thematic significance or all.

   Criteria for inclusion on this clickable list are that a museum must be one of the best in at least two of the following categories:

Best Inclusion of a Major Historical Site
Best Historical Artifacts Collection
Best Art Collection
Best Architecture
Best Looking Galleries
Best Museum Honoring a Person 
Uniqueness of Artifacts or Concept




American Jazz Museum & Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Charles Wright Museum of African American History

Du Sable Museum of African American History

Muhammad Ali Center

National Civil Rights Museum

National Great Blacks In Wax Museum

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Reginald Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture

Studio Museum in Harlem


August Wilson Center for African American Culture


Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture

Stax Museum of American Soul Music


African Burial Ground Museum & Monument


African American Museum of Philadelphia


Buffalo Soldiers National Museum


African American Museum of Dallas


Museum Of the African Diaspora


Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Museum & Maritime Park


California African American Museum


Boston Museum of African American History




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