These are the best Black history museums to visit in the US

black museums
Black History Month is celebrated every February. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP

Forget the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian. On Black History Month, we highly recommend you plan a trip to Black museums instead.

Celebrated every February in the US, this is a time dedicated to the struggles and accomplishments of the Black community here.

You may have heard of some of these famous African-Americans, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. 

The reason why they’re celebrated in February is because this is the month when both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born.

Lincoln was influential in the emancipation of slaves; and Douglass, a former slave, was a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery.

“Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington or from some of our sports heroes,” former US president Barack Obama said.

“It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America.”

He’s right. It doesn’t do justice to limit Black history in the US to just one month, given how much it’s shaped contemporary America.

And since you’re already in the US, and likely visiting its great cities and beautiful towns, why not drop by one of these Black museums —  or all give — for a good dose of Black history?

Check out these four Black museums dedicated to celebrating Black history across the country:

black museums

Take a trip down US history to celebrate famous Black figures and their contributions over the years. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

1. Whitney Plantation, Louisiana

Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday; Tour hours are between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ticket pricing: US$25 and US$32 (self-guided and guided)

Louisiana’s history is marred by slavery and the plantation system.

And the Whitney Plantation, where 20 to hundreds of Blacks were once enslaved, is where you’ll find the first slavery-focused museum in the US.

Visitors can opt between a self-guided audio tour or a one-and-a-half guided tour, costing US$25 and US$32 respectively at one of the best Black museums in the country.

The property consists of several buildings, memorials, exhibits and artwork that preserve the stories of the slaves who lived, worked and sometimes died at the plantation. 

There are no student discounts offered.

2. National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis

Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Ticket pricing: US$18 

Established in 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. 

Walk through history and learn more about a period of change in America’s history through interactive exhibits, historic collections, dynamic speakers and special events. 

Visitors can also board a bus to relive the experience of Montgomery bus boycott leader Rosa Parks, and sit at the original lunch counter where Greensboro students staged sit-ins in 1960.

3. National Museum of African American Culture and History (NMAACH), Washington D.C.

Opening hours: Monday, 12 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Ticket pricing: Free timed-entry tickets

The National Museum of African American Culture and History (NMAACH) is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. 

Exhibits detail the immeasurable influence of Black musicians, remember Black soldiers, trace the victories and struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, and so much more.

Book your free timed-entry tickets here.

4. National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre, Cincinnatti 

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Ticket pricing: US$16.50

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre is located on the banks of the Ohio River which separated the slave states of the South from the free states of the North during the 19th century.

The museum shares the stories from the era of the Underground Railroad and helps visitors understand the true meaning of inclusive freedom.

It’s an immersive experience for children and adults alike, using a powerful combo of storytelling, film, artwork, hands-on activities, and more.

Book your tickets here.

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