Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
DESCRIPTION: Top-Tier History Museum
ADMISSION: Modest fee
DAYS & HOURS: Tue-Sat 10a-5p, Sun 1p-5p
ADDRESS: 520 16th Street North, Birmingham, AL
PARKING: street only
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Review
This museum and institute is a compelling reason for families to visit Birmingham. Born of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, it and the Memphis Civil Rights Museum, are the two best museums of their kind nationwide. Take a moment to appreciate the Civil Rights Movement contributions of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth as recognized in a life-size bronze statue just to the right of the entryway.
From the grand entry court, its clear that the epic scale and architecture of this institution match the magnitude of the Civil Rights Movement. Yet the museum and institute retain a human scale and integrates well with its historic surroundings. It invites you to spend all day exploring its treasures and subtleties. Contextual windows peer across the street at historic 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park. Accurately described as a living institution with components that range from an Orientation Theater with an excellent introductory film, Oral History Project told by those who participated in the movement, an Archives Department of memorabilia for researchers and educators, an Education Department which produces programs for schools and the public at large, the Barriers Gallery features 14 venues portraying Birmingham life from 1920-1954. It even includes segregated streetcars.
Confrontation Gallery features 3 venues that depict the climate of violence and intimidation part and parcel to Alabama’s brand of segregation at the time. Movement Gallery features 16 venues that chronicle the history of the “modern” Civil Rights Movement from 1955-1963 — there is no better gallery to capture the trials, tragedy, and triumphs resulting from the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). Perhaps the greatest contribution this museum makes is to unflinchingly speak to the conscious of modern Birmingham on the path of reconciliation. It also reminds you that Birmingham has set the foundation to move forward.