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Top 20 Best Black History Museums in the US to Visit

by Tykesha77

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Visiting Black History Museums is an amazing way to learn about Black history and culture and the overall Black experiences in America. From coast to coast, there are tons of brilliant Black history museums to discover and explore.

Here are 20 of the best Black history museums in the US to visit:

1. National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel– Memphis, TN

Located at the former site of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, the National Civil Rights Museum is now regarded as one of the most dynamic Black history museums in the country.

Here you can find hundreds of historic artifacts that work to encapsulate the Civil Rights Movement, with exhibits covering everything from the emergence of slavery to the civil rights movement.

2. National Museum of African American History and Culture – Washington, DC

As a Smithsonian Institution Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is impressive in just about every way. Set in the heart of the nation’s capital, this national museum is the only one in the country that is dedicated solely to the documentation of African American history, culture, and life.

With 10 floors filled with more than 36,000 artifacts and exhibits, this critically acclaimed museum is a must-see. Oh, and because it’s a Smithsonian Museum—it’s free to enter!

3.  The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum – Kansas City, MO

 Whether you’re a baseball fan or just looking for unique things to do in Kansas City, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is a can’t-miss destination. This museum is packed with photographs, artifacts, and film exhibits devoted to the iconic baseball league formed by African Americans in 1920 after Jim Crow laws forced them off, professional baseball teams. The NLBM provokes a powerful discussion on the importance of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.

4. National Museum of African American Music – Nashville, TN

Music lovers, this one’s for you. Easily one of the coolest Black history museums in the US, the National Museum of African American Music is located in none other than Music City.

Dedicated to educating the public on more than 50 music genres that were created or inspired by African Americans, this musical wonderland features unique artifacts on everything from gospel to hip hop. My family thoroughly enjoyed watching our reflection as we danced to hits through the decades.  

 5. Whitney Plantation – Wallace, LA

Focused exclusively on the lives of enslaved people in the Southern US, Whitney Plantation tells a powerful tale of courage, resiliency, and the importance of remembering the past—even when it’s painful. Once home to nearly 3,000 enslaved people, Whitney Plantation now serves to inform the public on the history of slavery.

6. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – Cincinnati, OH

This wouldn’t be a list of the most powerful Black history museums in the US without including this one right here. Centered around the history of the Underground Railroad, this iconic museum features compelling exhibits like “From Slavery to Freedom” and “Brothers of the Borderland” to illuminate the true meaning of freedom and highlight the heroes that helped to pave the way.

7. The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration/The National Memorial for Peace and Justice – Montgomery, AL

Located just blocks from one of the most prolific slave auction spaces in the country, The Legacy Museum provides an immersive experience with a world-class art gallery and cutting-edge technology.

With a mission to more honestly confront America’s legacy of slavery and racial inequality, this museum and the affiliated National Memorial for Peace and Justice are unapologetically sobering and incredibly important for the future of repair.

8. Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture – Baltimore, MD

 If you’re a DMV (Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia) local or planning a visit to Maryland, you need to check out the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. With a focus on the lives and contributions of African Americans in Maryland, this amazing museum packs over 400 years of history into 82,000 square feet of exhibition space. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also offers weekly virtual events to help guests learn from afar.

9. Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum – Detroit, MI

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum serves as a stunning dedication to the African American airmen who defended our country in World War II. A must-visit for anyone interested in Black history or aviation, this museum honors the Tuskegee Airmen while inspiring the next generation of aviators. For mini flyers, the museum even offers drone piloting lessons and free airplane rides.

10. Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum – Memphis, TN

Once part of the Underground Railroad that helped to free thousands of enslaved people during the antebellum period, the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum offers its visitors a journey through time to get a firsthand look at the courage and perseverance it took to break the chains of slavery. 

11. DuSable Museum of African American History – Chicago, IL

Known as America’s oldest independent African American museum, the DuSable Museum is dedicated to the preservation of African-American history, culture, and art.

From groundbreaking exhibits on unforgettable moments in time like The March to vibrant artwork from cultural leaders like Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs, this Chicago staple is teeming with exciting things to do, see, and learn about.

12. Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – Houston, TX

Comprised of formerly enslaved men, freemen, and Black Civil War soldiers, the Buffalo Soldiers were the first to serve the nation during peacetime. Today, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum seeks to display the incredible contributions of African Americans through fun and engaging exhibits, workshops, and events.

13. Black American West Museum & Heritage Center – Denver, CO

This museum is perfect for parents of tiny cowboys and cowgirls. Or, for anyone interested in learning about the integral role that African Americans played in the settlement of the western United States. The Black American West Museum (BAWM) is located in a humble Victorian home and filled with precious artifacts that tell the tale of the African Americans who paved the way in the Wild, Wild West.

14. Jack Hadley Black History Museum – Thomasville, GA

The Jack Hadley Black History Museum was established in 1995 to celebrate the history and culture of African Americans on both a local and national scale. Thomasville’s first Black history museum features nearly 5,000 unique artifacts that date back to slavery times and chronicle centuries of Black history. Can’t make it in person? They’ve got several digital exhibits that you can check out.

15. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture – Harlem, NY

One of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the preservation and exhibition of artifacts focused on African American and African experiences. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a New York Public Library’s research library with tons of incredible resources for expanding your knowledge of Black history and culture.

16. New Orleans African American Museum – New Orleans LA

Set in Treme, the oldest-surviving Black community in the United States, the New Orleans African American Museum features a variety of vibrant exhibitions on Black history, particularly in art, culture, and music. The museum offers options for a self-guided tour or a guided tour, with discounts for Louisiana residents.

17. Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument – Jackson, MS

This historic house museum was the home of civil rights activist Medgar Evers,  until his assassination. The house is now a national historic landmark. Stepping into the Evers family home is like stepping back in time, serving as a surreal and educational experience for all who visit.  Evers’ commitment to the civil rights movement is forever preserved through this museum.

18. International Civil Rights Museum – Greensboro, NC

Housed in the Woolworth’s building where, in 1960, four freshmen from North Carolina A&T University students started the Greensboro sit-ins at a segregated lunch counter. The International Civil Rights Museum has captivating educational exhibits, artifacts, and video reenactments.

19. America’s Black Holocaust Museum – Milwaukee, WI

Founded in 1988 by James Cameron, who became famous after surviving a lynching, America’s Black Holocaust Museum was inspired by a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. Serving as both a historical and memorial museum. This museum seeks to enhance public awareness of the harmful legacies of slavery and promote repair and healing.

20. Northwest African American Museum – Seattle, WA

The Northwest African American Museum seeks to preserve the connection between the Pacific Northwest and African American people through interactive exhibits and events. Telling the story of the Black experience through a stunning combination of visual arts, music, and literature, this Seattle Museum is definitely worth a visit.

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide on some of the best Black history museums in the US to visit! If you’ve visited one of these museums, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below. If you think I missed one, let me know!

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