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The Best Exhibits in The African American History Museum

The Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture allows you to feast your eyes on the grandeur and rich history of African Americans. Here, you will gain first-hand knowledge about the plethora of struggles that they experienced over the centuries.

This mighty and magnificent building stands tall as a proud reminder of the poignancy and beauty of the African American culture and history.

Visit the African American History Museum DC

The National African American Museum of History and Culture has much to offer for history buffs and culture enthusiasts. In this museum, you will see artifacts, iconic photographs, remnants of African American women who participated in the Civil Rights Movement, a trumpet belonging to Louis Armstrong, Harriet Tubman’s linen shawl and silk lace, and much more. Visitors will also be able to see an entire exhibition that pays tribute to The Wiz; a Tony award-winning Broadway musical that made history with its strikingly talented African American cast.

Black Lives Matter
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The African American Museum is open every day from 10 am to 5:30 pm with the exception of December 25th. Also, there is no admission fee, so it’s free for all to visit.  However, passes may be required for certain busy days, typically during the weekends. You can enjoy walk-ups to the museum without a pass on weekdays.  However, in the case that you are visiting on the weekend or with groups of 10 or more people, you will be required to obtain timed entry passes. These passes can be obtained from the Museum, and you can also make online bookings.

Here are some of the most spell-binding exhibitions that deserve to be seen at the African American History Museum.
They are also the best Exhibits in the African American History Museum.

City of Hope

Martin Luther King Jr
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One of the newest exhibitions highlighted by the National Museum of African American History is titled “City of Hope”. It pays tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; a preacher and activist famous for the “I Have A Dream” speech.  This exhibit allows you to experience the poignancy of his struggle for equal economic and social rights for all African Americans.

The exhibition also shows visitors some of the most iconic days of Martin Luther King Jr’s journey. These days have been photographed by the prominent African American photographer, Richard Houston. The collection is brimming with a series of spellbinding videos and photographs. Additionally, many of these photographs were taken during the six-week protest demanding economic justice.

Martin Luther King Jr
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This campaign has emerged as the most extensively and accurately documented project on the final mission of Martin Luther King Jr. Additionally, this exhibition is bound to brim you up with respect and awe at the striking achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. As you browse through the photographs, you will absorb insightful details of African American history.

Musical Crossroads

Regale yourself with the incredible story of the inception of African American music, starting from the day the first Africans arrived on American soil. On that day, they then began infusing the culture with their music. It is a breathtaking exhibition that shows the history of how African musical and cultural traditions were embedded into the framework of American society. Also, alongside this exhibit, it also opens an introduction to some incredible artifacts and memorabilia.

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The exhibition is also a reminder of how African American music emerged as a voice for freedom, justice, and social innovation. It demanded an end to social injustices and oppression fueled by racism. Here, you can feast your eyes on Chucky Berry’s Cadillac, and the Neon Sign from Minton’s Playhouse. Also situated here is the iconic club in Harlem that is accredited as the birthplace of bebop. You can also see the rehearsal piano used by the legend, Thomas Dorsey, from the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

A Century in the Making

Indeed, one of the finest, most inspiring exhibitions in the African American History Museum is titled, A Century in the Making. This Exhibit will walk you through the efforts spearheaded by African Americans, activists, leaders, presidents, congresspeople, celebrities, art connoisseurs, curators, architects, army veterans and more.

Museum Monument
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Here you will see an entire century-long journey marked with struggles, contributions and overwhelming achievements that have shaped African American history. The exhibition begins by exploring the steps taken by multiple African American activists, leaders, and groups from 1915 to 2003. Additionally, it also shows their struggle to erect a national monument dedicated to African American contributions to the United States in Washington DC.

Also, you will get to explore more than 37000 artifacts and works of art curated and dedicated to African American history and iconic groups.

More Than A Picture

A striking celebration of the diversity and significance of African American cultural history, More Than A Picture certainly stands true to its name. This spellbinding exhibition allows you to feast your eyes on a series of photographs that reflect poignant moments of history; sealed in memory and lost in time.

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The exhibition will leave you in awe of how extensively the National Museum of African American History has documented the history of African Americans. The photographs will take you back to the darkness of the slavery era. From there, it brings you towards contemporary times; featuring modern showcases, such as Black Lives Matter. Additionally, More Than A Picture presents an abundance of photographs that allow you to connect with the African American experiences over the decades. It allows you to foster a bond with a powerful sense of African American cultural identity.

Visual Art And The American Experience

The one and only permanent art exhibition at the Smithsonian African American History Museum, this exhibit is dedicated as a tribute to the significance of the role played by artists of African descent. It features their contributions to the American history of art and creative expression.

Morgan Freeman
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The exhibition allows you to feast your eyes on some of the most stunning and exclusive pieces of fine art that have been erected in various modes of production. This includes art installations, paintings, sculptures, photography, works on paper, digital media and much more. It is a whirlwind of art, culture, and beauty. Also, the paintings will leave you exalted with their rich definition of vibrant colors and innovative art mediums. This exhibition will also introduce you to some of the most iconic African American artists and their work.

Slavery and Freedom

One of the most powerful exhibitions situated in the African American History Museum is Slavery and Freedom. It will introduce you to the complex story of the Black Liberation Movement. The story begins from 15th century African and European history. Then, it walks you through the formation of the United States of America. It then leads up to the Civil War and later, the Reconstruction.

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The exhibition is brimming with powerful artifacts; first-person accounts of free and enslaved African Americans. There are also some stunning visuals that will take you back in time with their poignancy. This powerful exhibition is highly recommended for children and history enthusiasts. This is because it sheds light on American cultures of slavery. It also includes the extraordinary contributions made by ordinary men and women in the quest for freedom and demands to end racism.

Some of the most priceless artifacts include Harriet Tubman’s shawl, gifted by Queen Elizabeth II. Alongside this shawl are some of her exquisite lace, and Nat Turner’s Bible. The exhibition will leave you engulfed with raw emotions after seeing the tiny shackles made for the small ankles of enslaved children. Also, you’ll see the tiny cabins erected for slaves before the Civil War. The visuals are spellbindingly powerful and will also trigger debates and conversations. Additionally, it allows Americans to connect with their past.

Taking The Stage

Taking the stage exhibit
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The exhibit is all about performing on stage or on film. It’s a must-see brilliant tribute to the history of African American celebrities, performers, actors, playwrights, and other creative talents in the realm of theatre, television, and the film industry. This powerful exhibition is located on the 4th floor of the African American History Museum. It will take you on an exciting journey that celebrates the struggle of African Americans demanding artistic freedom; those who have demanded equal representation in performance arts.

Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom

Explore the years of African American struggle towards the end of Reconstruction. This stunning exhibition introduces you to the challenges faced by African Americans in a society marked with racism, oppression, and segregation. It sheds light on the struggle to obtain full citizenship rights, introducing you to some of the most incredible artifacts.

Bus Boycott African American History Museum
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For instance, there’s a dress on display worn by Rosa Parks. She was an activist of the Civil Rights movement, playing a vital role in the Massachusetts bus boycott. She is today known as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement. Alongside Rosa Parks’ artifact is Emmett Till’s casket. Emmet was a 14-year-old African American who was lynched for the assumption of offending a Caucasian woman. Also, in that exhibit, sits a wedding dress of a migrant who arrived in Los Angeles from Texas, amongst much more.


Sports African American History Museum
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This is an exhibition dedicated entirely to the legacies of African American athletes. It highlights the struggle to demand equality and representation in the arena of sports. Also, it is an astounding gallery of artifacts, pictures and graphic visuals that will walk you through the political, social, and cultural struggles of African American athletes. This also includes their activism that extended beyond the sports field. It shows how sports altered the lives of athletes that came after them.

A Changing America

Dedicated to years of African American history from 1968 onwards, the A Changing America exhibit will walk you through stories from the start of contemporary African American life. This allows you to experience the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements of African Americans. The exhibition begins from the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and leads up to the second victory of the former US President Barack Obama. The coverage and preservation of artifacts, memorabilia, and vivid graphics are also incredibly outstanding. Visitors can also enjoy artifacts and remnants from the Black Arts Movement and the iconic age of Hip Hop.

Jazz African American History Museum
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A Changing America is a cornucopia of stunning visuals, posters, and graphics from the African American Freedom Movement; the dynamic Black Power Movement. It is highly recommended for families and children who adore history.

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