Black history month always seems to fly by, not only is it a short month but it is also the month where some celebrate the Superbowl, Mardi Gras, NBA All-star weekend and Valentine’s Day. If you feel like you didn’t learn enough in February or it’s just too short; here are a few of the best history museums in the U.S. for Black History.
National Museum of African-American History and Culture 1400 Constitution Ave NW., Washington DC, 20230
Covid 19 Update: As of November 2020, the museum is currently closed. You can view virtual exhibits here. As you know Covid updates happen frequently so be sure to check for direct updates from the museum. Once the museum opens again below is information for visiting.
This is now the mother of all places and my favorite museum. Referred to as NMAAC or #APeoplesJourney (on social media), this historical museum opened in September of 2016. Ever since the opening, I kept my eye on tickets. I was able to finally score tickets and visited the awesome museum. It was the best way to kick of Black History Month. The museum is open 364 days a year (closed on Christmas) from 10 am-5:30 pm and best of all it’s FREE.
As of 2019, the museum now has different ticket requirements based on Peak season and Off-Peak season. However, any groups of 10 or more always require advance timed tickets.
Peak season is March-August:
-During peak season you must reserve tickets online (6 max) and the tickets are grabbed within minutes of being released.
-They are released on the first Wednesday of the month about 3 months in advance.
-The only other way is to try to grab same day tickets (4 max) online starting at 6:30 am the day of.
-Walk-Up tickets are available on weekdays only starting at 1 pm (1 ticket max per person).
Off-Peak Season is September to February:
-Visitors may enter the museum on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10 a.m.
-Timed-entry passes will still be required every weekend.
-Visitors can obtain same-day online passes for Saturdays or Sundays, or they can use the advanced timed-entry passes that were distributed for weekends three months prior online.
There are no food or drinks allowed and lockers are limited. The museum is 4 levels and you need the full day to really see all of the exhibits. There is a cafeteria on-site called Sweet Home Cafe that offers about 3-4 different stations where you can get an entree and 2 sides from any station. Although the museum is free entry, the food and souvenir prices can get pricey if you have a family. I paid about $20 for a meal and a drink.
African American Museum parking is very limited, we were able to park in the parking deck of the Ronald Reagan and International Trade building but we had to go through a car security check and a check once we went back to the car. The deck is at the corner of Constitution and 14th Street, about a 3 min or less walk. Click to Map It. Download a parking app for help but it’s better to use other transportation or expect to pay $25 or more. Street parking is capped at a certain time and you need a lot of time in the museum so I would not recommend it. There is an easy drop off area for Uber and Lyft if you don’t want to drive.
Don’t forget to download the museum’s mobile apps to enhance your visit.
Be sure to start at the bottom and work your way to the top and wear comfortable shoes. There are rooms on each level where you can share your thoughts on your visit. There are other museums in DC to learn about black history but I would really suggest starting with this museum if possible.
African American Museum Virtual Tour
A short video of my tour of the African American Museum pre-covid
Other notable Black History places in DC include the Martin Luther King Monument
The newest museum in the Smithsonian family opened in Jan of 2021 and highlights genres that have African American roots. Unlike the African American museum in DC, you must pay for tickets. Ticket prices range from $13.50-$24.95, children under 7 are free.
Center for Civil and Human Rights100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. Atlanta, Ga 30313
The museum has exhibits that center around the Civil Rights movement as well as Global Human Rights. Tickets start at $12 and up.
Other notable Black History sites in Atlanta
450 Auburn Ave. NE Atlanta Atlanta is the birthplace of Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You can visit the home he grew up in, his Church Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached and where he is buried. Admission is free.
Martin Luther King Jr. Statues
- Georgia Capitol; Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.Capitol Ave. Atlanta GA 30334
- 441 M.L.K. Jr Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30318 This statue was installed in January 2021 and across from the Mercedes Benz stadium on the Northside Drive side. The statue is not far from Paschal’s, a historical Black-Owned restaurant in Atlanta, and his Alma Mater Morehouse. The work of art, Hope Moving Forward, was sculpted by Jamaican artist Basil Watson @basil.sculpture
The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum 460 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Savannah Ga
This museum includes exhibits and information on the civil rights struggle of Georgia’s oldest African-American community. Admission ranges from $4-$8.
Other notable Black History Savannah spots:
- The First African Baptist Church 23 Montgomery St, Savannah, GA 31401 The oldest black church in the US and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
- The Haitian Monument is located in Franklin Square near the First African Baptist Church and pays homage to the largest unit of soldiers of African/Haitian descent to fight in the American Revolution.
Most people may not know that there is a museum connected to Lorraine Motel. Lorraine Motel is unfortunately where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.
Ticket costs range from $14-17 and children 4 & under are free. This museum is currently closed due to Covid -19 restrictions.
Stax Museum 926 E McLemore Ave, Memphis, TN 38106
Stax museum highlights Soul Music and details the journey of Stax Records and Memphis Soul Music artists.
The DuSable Museum of African American History 740 East 56th Place, Chicago
Chicago was founded by a Haitian pioneer, Jean-Baptise Pointe DuSable. There is a statue located downtown. There is also a museum in Chicago that has several events throughout the year with various exhibits. Prices range from $3 for children (ages 6-11) to $10 for adults. As of January 2017, they have free entry on Tuesdays. Click here to learn about the latest events and exhibits.
- President Obama There are many historical sites in Chicago that chronicle the life in Chicago of the 44th President of the United States. Check out this cool info-graphic that shows you 21 sites you can visit across the city.
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
The Charles H. Wright Museum houses the world’s largest permanent exhibit of African American history and Culture.
A museum dedicated to the legendary Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy.
Detroit is rich with Black History. Here are other notable sites in Detroit for Black History:
A monument dedicated to Boxer Joe Louis and represents his power outside of the ring to fight against Jim Crow laws.
Detroit was one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad before crossing over into Canada.
Related: Weekend guide to visiting Detroit
Old Dillard School Museum 1009 NW 4th Street, Fort Lauderdale FL 33311
Curator Derek Davis led us on a tour of the first school developed for people of color in the area. We learned about the history of education in the area and there was a lovely exhibit of the Black Trail Blazers of Broward County. We also had a chance to see former classrooms, a Jazz room, and an African playroom. The museum hosts various exhibits, lectures, and events. Derek did an excellent job and we later learned he is instrumental in the success of black history in Broward County. Check out more from my post: A Look Into The Black History of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
This year I plan to check out more whenever I travel. In addition, I am fascinated by The Green Book which was a travel guide book for black during segregation. You can view the digital copy here. There is an edition location in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Now I’ve only touched on a few of the best history museums in the U.S. Comment below with your favorite Black History Museum to visit and why?
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