About African American Museum – Philadelphia
The African American Museum in Philadelphia explores the history and heritage of African Americans, and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The main collections at the African American Museum in Philadelphia relate to the history of Philadelphian African Americans in the twentieth century, from exhibits about the city’s chapter of the Black Panthers to sports paraphernalia.
African American Museum – Philadelphia history
As 1976 marked the Bicentennial celebration of American Independence, the African American Museum in Philadelphia – the United States’ revolutionary capital – was founded. The museum was the first institution funded and built by a major municipality to interpret, preserve and exhibit the heritage of America’s African American citizens.
Philadelphia was identified as the location for the museum as a significant centre of African American history and culture: as the US was being formed in the 18th century Philadelphia was not only the capital city but centre of the abolitionist movement. The city also was home to the largest free black population at a time when chattel slavery thrived in the US.
The museum’s founding director was Charles H. Wesley, a noted African American historian, educator and author of over fifteen books of African American history and culture. The fourth African American to gain a Ph.D. from Harvard University and an ordained minister, Wesley’s distinguished career led him to serve as Director of what was at the time known as the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia. In 1997, the museum was renamed as the African American Museum.
African American Museum – Philadelphia today
The AAMP currently houses four galleries and an auditorium, all offering exhibitions grounded in three dominant themes: the African Diaspora, the Philadelphia Story and the Contemporary Narrative. On permanent display, is the exhibition ‘Audacious Freedom’ including a narrated timeline of 100 years of Philadelphia history.
As an integral part of Philadelphia’s rich historical and cultural landscape, the African American Museum is a must-visit, sure to make a meaningful impact on those who experience the stories of African American people through their own words, art, and experiences.
Getting to the African American Museum – Philadelphia
Located in Philadelphia’s historical centre, the AAMP is a 300m walk from the Liberty Bell. If travelling by public transport, the nearest bus stop is Arch St and 7th St, on bus route 48. The closest metro stop is Chinatown or 8th and Market Street Station. If driving, there is an Autopark at Independence Mall, 100m away.