February is Black History Month and one of the best ways to learn about Black history is at a museum. Philadelphia has a wide range of museums covering several historical topics, including African American history. For those who do not already know, Philadelphia was the capital of the United States from 1790 to 1800. These three museum options are for the folks interested in learning more about black history.
Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery
The Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery is in my view the most unique museum in the country. The artifacts within the museum are real and not kept behind glass. Shocking children’s toys and signs from the Jim Crow era line the walls and counters. A real Ku Klux Klan robe can be viewed right in front of you. Shackles that were almost guaranteed to have been used on African slaves are available for visitors to see. This museum does not shy away from the horrors of slavery. Instead, the founders of the museum provide a decade-by-decade lesson on the history of slavery up to the modern day. Through a detailed two-hour presentation, visitors learn how we got where we are with modern race relations. While the stories of some African Americans are discussed, such as Emmett Till, this museum focuses more on America’s overall history as a deeply racist country. For $20, visitors have the chance to see many items that are typically reserved for the eyes of anthropologists. Schedule an appointment through their website. Be prepared to see truly shocking things.
African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP)
The AAMP hosts events throughout Black History Month which can be looked up on their website. The museum covers a wide range of topics and includes interactive displays. The artwork featured in the museum is especially interesting. Visitors can expect to spend about an hour in this museum to see everything. Admission is $10 for students, but it can change based on the day you attend. For example, some days they will do $2 admission if it is a date of historical significance. Staff are always happy to answer questions so do not be too shy to ask. The best time to attend is in the morning when it is less crowded. This museum is much smaller than the National Museum of African American History and Culture, so do not expect to make an entire day out of it. Because of this museum’s close proximity to Chinatown, it can be a lot of fun to go to the museum in the morning and then get a dim sum lunch afterward. Parking is limited so you may be better off taking the Market-Frankford Line.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Located in Washington, D.C., this enormous museum includes a seemingly endless amount of information on Black historical figures. This museum has everything in it. Topics include Black artists, culture, the Jim Crow era, slavery and Black success stories. Because of the expansive nature of this museum, it is possible to spend an entire afternoon here. The museum does require a timed ticket which can be reserved online, but it is free which cuts down on some of the costs associated with traveling to DC. On that note, this museum also requires a bit more planning to attend because it is not in Philadelphia. Still, it is worth the trip down to Washington, D.C. While you are in D.C. make sure to check out Sticky Fingers Diner. Their breakfast food is incredible.