The National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre opened in August 2004 and has since strived to tell the stories of those who have fought for freedom from the Underground Railway to the present day in the hope of challenging people’s ideas about inclusivity and freedom. The museum also aims to encourage and inspire people to promote and work towards freedom. Its position next to the Ohio River is a poignant reminder of its purpose as this river separated the southern slave states from the free states of the North. The National Underground Freedom Centre examines America’s heritage alongside discussions of contemporary slavery and human trafficking. It also forms part of a group of 'Museums of Conscience' alongside three others across the United States, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre reveals stories about freedom’s heroes: the men, women and children who challenge inequities to pursue greater freedom for their brothers and sisters. Through a series of rolling ‘special exhibitions’ and its vast collections displayed in several permanent exhibition spaces, the museum highlights the long history of enslavement in America, and its continuing legacy in the modern world.
The centre's most significant artifact is an original slave pen (or prison) originally built in 1830, and thought to be the only surviving example in the world. Visitors can walk through the pen and see some of the names of the people who were once held there. Alongside the pen, which is housed in its own exhibition space on the museum's second floor, there is a permanent exhibition, 'From Slavery to Freedom.' This exhibition covers three hundred years of slavery from its introduction to the Americas to its abolition. 'From Slavery to Freedom' is funded by the Oprah Winfrey Foundation and features a range of collections, including artefacts, archaeological specimens and paintings.
The centre also houses the 'world's first museum-quality, permanent exhibition on the subjects of modern-day slavery and human trafficking'; 'Invisible: Slavery Today' uses the experiences of five individuals who have been caught up in different forms of contemporary slavery and exploitation to highlight the issue in the modern world, as well as including examples of modern antislavery work around the world.
The centre also contains examples of interactive exhibits, with films, hands-on activities and live gallery talks, aimed at providing their visitors with a multi-sensory experience.
The African American Museum of Iowa was founded by a small group of members of the Mt. Zion missionary Baptist church in Cedar Rapids in 1993. The museum was closed for a year during flooding, reopening in 2009. It attempts to preserve, exhibit, and teach the African American heritage of Iowa. The museum aims to examine Iowa’s African American history, from the transatlantic slave trade until Civil Rights. The museum also offers traveling exhibits available for to rent for two weeks at a small cost. It is heavily funded by donations.
The permanent exhibits at the museum are concerned with tracing Iowa’s African American history, from its origins in western Africa to the present, through slavery, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. There is also a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions on a range of themes including, art and social history. Group tours are offered for adults. These last around 45 minutes and provide additional stories, contexts, and insight into the workings of the museum throughout the tour. For younger people the museum runs field trips and hands-on workshops offering age-appropriate lessons covering local African American history and culture. There is also an online collection which includes archives, photos, library items, and oral histories.
Cape Coast Castle is one of around forty ‘slave castles’ built by European traders on the coast of West Africa and used to hold enslaved Africans prior to their being transported to the Americas or the Caribbean. The first timber construction on the site was erected in 1653 for the Swedish Africa Company named Carolusborg. It was later rebuilt in stone. In April 1663 the ‘Swedish Gold Coast’ was seized by the Danes and integrated into the ‘Danish Gold Coast’. In 1664 it was conquered by the British. Originally used for trade in timber and gold, the castle was later used in the transatlantic slave trade. In the late 18th century it was rebuilt and used as the seat of the colonial Government of the British Gold Coast in 1844. In 1957, when Ghana became independent, the site came under the care of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, and was restored for public access in the 1990s. The museum offers guided tours, as well as permitting tours orchestrated by freelance tour guides. There is also a library and a gift shop, featuring traditional Ghanaian arts and crafts, on site.
The main aim of the museum is to act as a monument to those taken from Africa and enslaved into the system of Transatlantic Slavery. It features both archaeological and ethnographic collections on displays, within the rooms of the castle. Throughout, there are also a number of contemporary sculptures depicting the heads of victims of the slave trade. Visitors tour through the castle, encountering the rooms in which the enslaved were held, with guides providing further information about the conditions and experiences those thousands of Africans faced.
The memorial was founded after human remains were discovered underground by city workmen who were attempting to build some government offices in the 1990s. The remains belonged to enslaved Africans who were building New Amsterdam (present day New York). The African Burial Ground National Monument honours these Africans’ memory, having reburied them in a more respectful manner. It is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. A 'sacred space in Manhattan', the mission of the memorial is to acknowledge New York's involvement with slavery and the slave trade to provide a respectful and symbolic space for the reinternment of the African remains found at the site.
The facilities at the centre include a range of exhibits, a twenty-minute film and a book/gift shop. In addition, the memorial also offers on-site presentations in the visitor centre consisting of an hour long programme. The memorial is managed by the National Park Service and the U.S Department of the Interior.
The process of memorialization and the research conducted about the enslaved African skeletal remains was negotiated extensively between the General Services Administration, the African American descendant community, historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists. Civic engagement led to the ancestral remains reinternment within the original site of discovery. An external memorial, an interpretive centre, and research library were constructed to further commemorate the financial and physical contributions of enslaved Africans to colonial New York, and to honour their memory. The exhibits examine the history of the initial discovery, the research conducted to identify the remains, the documentation process and associated artefacts.
Previously called the Robert Robinson Library, the museum was opened as the Alexandria Black History Research Centre in 1983. In 1987, the Alexandria City Council placed the operation of the museum under the office of Historic Alexandria, providing a large increase in funding which allowed for the building to be completed in 1989. Further expansion followed in 1995, when the Watson Reading Room, with books, documents, and periodicals on African American culture, was added. The museum's mission is to inform and enrich the lives of Alexandria’s residents and visitors about the diversity of the African American experience in Alexandria, Virginia. The museum also operates the Alexandria African American Heritage Park, a nine-acre park, which contains a one-acre nineteenth-century African-American cemetery that was buried under a city landfill in the 1960s.
The museum has several exhibitions, displaying collections of African objects, including wood carvings from the west coast of Africa, as well as collections from African American churches, photographs, and documents. The Museum also runs events related to African cultural and heritage such as guest lectures. The museum curates a range of temporary exhibition covering a variety of topics. For example, the Sharon J Frazier and Linwood M. Smith Dollhouse collection has featured in one such exhibition with miniatures of buildings and rooms capturing the forgotten businesses and people who were important to Alexandria’s development in the last century. A particular emphasis was also placed on African American culture and important institutions such as family, church, and school.
The Freedom House Museum was once part of the headquarters for the largest domestic slave trading firm in the United States, Franklin and Armfield. Enslaved Africans were brought from the Chesapeake Bay area and forced to the slave markets in Natchez, Mississippi and New Orleans either by foot or ship. The building has a long history. In 1828, it was leased by Isaac Franklin and John Armfield and used as a "Negro Jail" or slave pen for slaves being shipped from Northern Virginia to Louisiana. During the American Civil War the museum and its surrounding sites were used firstly as a military prison for deserters, then as the L'Ouverture Hospital for black soldiers, and finally as the barrack for contraband-slaves who fled the confederate states and sought refuge with Union troops.
The building is currently owned by the Northern Virginia Urban League but the museum is managed by the office of Historic Alexandria. It operates as a reminder to the people of Alexandria of the city's role in historic slavery.
In the basement of the building there is a powerful exhibition which depicts the harsh reality of the domestic slave trade and Alexandria's role in it, through the use of first person narratives from enslaved men and women. These are complemented with a range of contextual text panels, artefacts, images and maps.
The African-American Panoramic Experience (APEX) Museum aims to accurately interpret and present history from an African-American perspective in order to help all visitors understand and appreciate the contributions of African-Americans to America and the wider world. It was founded in 1978, and in 2018 curated a programme of events to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The museum contains a range of exhibitions. These begin with a chronological display exploring the history of Africa. Another examines the experience of enslaved Africans in Georgia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Other displays bring the narrative up to date, looking at women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and the history of the local district Sweet Auburn, which has become a hub for African-Americans in Georgia. The museum has many artefacts including photographs, art, and traditional African material culture.
Formerly the Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site was constructed in 1875 and opened as the Banneker-Douglass Museum (BDM) in 1984. It was named after Benjamin Banneker – a free-born African American scientist and mathematician. He protested strongly against slavery, and compared the fight of the colonists to that of the enslaved people in America when writing to Thomas Jefferson in 1791. The other namesake was Frederick Douglass, a political activist, writer, and famous abolitionist who documented his experiences both escaping from and fighting against slavery. The museum is dedicated to preserving Maryland’s African American Heritage. It contains a range of both permanent and temporary exhibitions. In light of this legacy, the BDM focuses on a community-based approach to building collections and exhibitions and in providing tours, public programs, and other services. The museum's permanent exhibition is a celebration of African Americans in Maryland; providing an overview of African American history in Maryland from 1633 to the present day. Specifically the exhibition looks at Maryland’s first African American settler, Mathias De Sousa. It includes Benjamin Banneker’s almanacs, used as an anti-slavery protest to Thomas Jefferson, as well as a recording of Frederick Douglass’s speeches against racism and slavery. The museum presently partners with Anne Arundel County Public Library, offering programs and workshops at AACPL branches. It also offers guided tours of both the permanent and temporary exhibition.
The museum is located on Gorée Island, 3 km off the coast of Senegal. The structure was built in 1776 as a holding centre for Africans waiting to be exported across the Atlantic. It was converted into a museum and memorial in 1962. According to the original curator of the museum, Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye, the island played a pivotal role in the containment and transportation of slaves to America during the transatlantic slave trade. The aim of the museum and memorial is to help its visitors come to terms with the extent of the transatlantic slave trade and the effects of the trade on Africa and its people. It was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978.
The content of the museum includes murals and artwork showcasing traditional African techniques, and depicting the process of enslavement. There is also a variety of objects such as chains, manacles, and cages which emphasise the brutal nature of slavery. The site itself is accessed via a ferry and the tourism industry of nearby Dakar is linked closely with the island. The key voices addressed within the museum are those of the enslaved; the museum brings visitors into close approximation with the living conditions faced by the enslaved during the transatlantic slave trade. One of the most poignant features is the 'Door of No Return' which is said to be the point where enslaved Africans were boarded onto ships ahead of the Atlantic voyage.
Situated on the grounds of a nineteenth-century merchant’s house and slave quarters, Kura Hulanda is an anthropological museum that focuses on the cultures of Curacao. Its displays examine a wide range of subjects from the origins of man, the African slave trade, and West African Empires, to Pre-Colombian gold, Mesopotamian relics and Antillean art. The museum is located in the central harbour of Willemstad, where Dutch merchants traded enslaved Africans and commercial goods. Kura Hulanda Museum demonstrates the influence that African and other diverse cultural heritages have had on Curaçaoan and Caribbean societies through time to the present day. It is managed by the Curaçao Tourist Board. The museum's exhibits trace Curaçaoans African roots and the legacy of the slave trade in the region with collections of art and artefacts from West Africa, illustrating the African influences on Caribbean culture. Displays chart African civilisations, the Middle Passage, life on the plantations, abolition and apprenticeship. There is a model of a slave ship, alongside examples of African bronze work, and instruments that showcase the brutal nature of enslavement. Other displays bring the narrative closer to the present day, examining the Civil Rights movement in the USA with panels relating to the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
The Badagry Heritage Museum is housed in the former district officer’s office that was constructed in 1863. The museum attempts to highlight the injustice and horror of the transatlantic slave trade, whilst also exhibiting the rich histories and cultures of Africa. There is a specific focus on the heritage of pre and post-transatlantic slave trade in Badagry. The museum consists of eight galleries each dealing with particular themes relating to local heritage and the transatlantic slave trade. Guided tours are available. The museum is managed by the Nigerian Cultural Commission.Each of eight galleries are named after a part of the transatlantic slave trade. The first, the 'Introductory Gallery', focuses on the founding and early history of Badagry. The next five galleries all deal specifically with distinct phases of the slave trade, from capture, transportation, material culture, resistance, and industry. In these galleries are objects that illustrate the brutal nature of enslavement, including shackles and manacles, as well as replicas of slave ships. The seventh gallery examines the forced integration of the enslaved into the countries they were transported to, featuring videos of reconstructed slave auctions. Finally, the last gallery explores abolition movements and the persistence of slavery even after its legal end. The museum has attempted to incoporate the voices of local people within the displays, as well as depicting the significance they place on certain cultural and historical items within the museum. In addition to the historical collections, there are also some examples of contemporary art throughout, showing modern reflections on the systems of enslavement.
Le musée d'histoire de Ouidah (The Ouidah Museum of History) is located within the Old Portuguese Fort in Ouidah. The Fort was used to contain and transport enslaved Africans as part of the transatlantic slave trade, serving as the site for diplomatic presence of Portugal in the area. The fort became property of the Dahomean government in 1961, when it was restored and turned into a museum, opening in 1967. It is managed by the Department of Cultural Patrimony.
The museum's collections are grouped into six major exhibit themes: the Portuguese Fort (in which the museum resides), the Kingdom of Xwéda, the Kingdom of Dahomey, the Slave Trade, Vodun, and the cultural links between Benin and the New World. These collections are made up of artefacts, photographs and objects that have significant meaning to the history and culture of the museum's local area.
The history of slavery runs throughout the displays; from the Portuguese Fort display which discusses how enslaved Africans were kept there. The displays that explore the kingdoms of Xwéda and Dahomey use collections to emphasise the extent to which both of them were dependent on the trade in enslaved individuals with Europeans for riches and power. These include a range of archaeological finds, as well as engravings and drawings. The exhibition about the religious traditions of the area, in particular the development of Voodoo, reflects on the continued use of African religions by enslaved people in the Americas during the period of the transatlantic slave trade, using religious artefacts. A range of images and objects showcase the impact that people from Benin made on the cultures of New World societies, as well as the effects of mass repatriation to Benin after the decline of the slave trade.
The Slave Trade exhibits examine the system of transatlantic slavery from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century and how it impacted on the local area. The main focus is on the economic and social processes that the slave trade created in Benin, capture, enslavement and the Middle Passage. These themes are illustrated with a range of objects, artists' renditions and archival materials. Examples of objects on display include chains and yokes. Images are also used to give some information about the plantation system in the Americas and Caribbean.
Situated in Winnipeg, at the heart of the Canadian Prairies, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the past, present and future of human rights. The museum aims to create inspiring interactive experiences for its visitors in order to equip them with the tools needed to make a difference in the lives of others. It is the first museum in nearly five decades to be built outside Canada's National Capital Region, with funding from the Canadian government, after being established by legislative amendments to the Museums Act in 2008. The museum's building was purpose-built, designed to reflect the themes of the museum in the external construction, with a Hall of Hope built in luminous alabaster and outside glass wings surrounding the building represent a dove as a symbol of peace.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has ten core galleries as well as two spaces for temporary or travelling exhibitions. All of the displays within the museum feature diverse aspects of human rights. These include: a discursive introductory display about what human rights are, a gallery that explores the perspectives of indigenous Canadian people, and an exhibition that focusses on the stories of Canadian individuals or groups that have had their own 'journeys' with human rights challenges. Another exhibition features an overview of Canada's legal stance on human rights. Other galleries explore human rights from a more global perspective, looking at the Holocaust, other instances of genocide around the world and 'Turning Points' that have marked key changes in international human rights policy. The later galleries on the visitor route explore human rights in the present and their potential in the future, challenging visitors to take action and inspire change. All of these galleries feature the use of digital interactives, film and audio presented from lots of different perspectives, often providing the visitor an opportunity to actively participate with the theme of the exhibition. Built without a collection, the museum has filled its galleries with objects on loan from organisations around the world, both in Canada and abroad. They also have objects donated to them from the people and groups the galleries represent. The museum also has a Tower of Hope that visitors can go up, with views over the city, and an indoor garden of reflection.
The Transatlantic Slave Trade is cited as the first instance of genocide in world history in the 'Breaking the Silence' gallery which explores the role of secrecy and denial in the persecution of genocide and what happened when people spoke out or offered resistance. The centre-piece of the gallery is an interactive table that shows instances of genocide, both through time and across the world, alongside related documents and images. The 'Canadian Journeys' gallery incorporates the narrative of enslaved Africans using the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom in Canada. There are also narratives of more contemporary forms of slavery and human trafficking. Narratives of enslavement have also featured in public programmes at the museum.
The Museum of Slavery in the village of Albreda first opened in 1996. It is housed in the Maurel Fréres building which was built by the British colonial government in the 1840s. Only a short distance from Juffure, the home of Kunta Kinte - the main character of Alex Haley's 'Roots' - the museum is dedicated to interpreting the history of transatlantic slavery in the area. It is a hub for students and researchers.
The museum's displays use a collection of artefacts to examine the process of enslavement, with particular focus on capture and the Middle Passage. These artefacts include chain neck collars, foot cuffs, yokes and manillas. The museum also has a display about 'Roots'.
Guided tours are regularly welcomed to the museum. Visitors are also frequently taken to visit the nearby 'factory' ruins which was once used as a slave station by French and British colonial administrations.
The Old Residency Museum is housed in a colonial building, designed in Scotland and shipped to Nigeria during the 1880s. It previously housed the British colonial administration in Nigeria. The museum holds the largest collection of Nigerian documents and artefacts in the world. It focusses on the history of the Calabar and Cross River Regions, as well as slavery, and is managed by the National Commission for Museums.
The first exhibition encountered by visitors on their entry to the museum explores the four centuries of the trade in people that permeated Nigeria and the region. There is a significant display of European items that were used as trade goods in exchange for enslaved Africans. This includes Venetian glass beads, pewter pots, ceramic pots, shaving sets and guns. Other displays include items that illustrate the brutal nature of enslavement, including chains and manacles.
The museum's other exhibition examines the production processes of palm oil, as one of the most important exports to Calabar, after the abolition of the slave trade.
The Pompey Museum is named after a courageous enslaved man who led a slave revolt from the Rolle Plantation on Steventon, Exuma, Bahamas. Vendue House, where the museum is located, was built in the 1790s and operated as a market place where enslaved people and other goods were sold during the nineteenth century. The house was opened as a one-room museum in 1992 and was redeveloped in 2014.
The museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the lived experience of enslaved people, particularly during transatlantic slavery, and its aftermath in The Bahamas. It features a small selection of objects and images that complement these themes. Following its redevelopment in 2014, the museum curated a powerful exhibition entitled 'Wade in The Water: Peter Mowell, the Last Slave Ship in The Bahamas' which charted the plight of the enslaved Africans on the slave ship that wrecked off Lynyard Cay in the Abacos in 1860.
The National Museum of St Kitts is housed in the Old Treasury Building, built by the British colonial administration in 1894 and known as the 'gateway to Basseterre' due to its imposing size. The museum opened in 2002 and charts the history of St Kitts from its earliest, indigenous populations to its independence from colonial rule in 1983.
The museum has three permanent galleries which cover St Kitts' history in a chronological timeline making use of a small collection of artefacts, alongside images and text panels. The first gallery examines the indigenous populations of the island, alongside exhibits relating to natural history and ecology.
The second gallery explores the arrival of Europeans to the island and the development of slavery and the plantation economy. There are artefacts showcasing the brutal nature of enslavement, including an iron slave collar. It also explains the processes involved in the cultivation of sugar, as used on the plantations during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also provides a narrative of abolition and emancipation.
The final gallery examines the colonial governance of St Kitts post emancipation, through to independence from British rule in 1983.
Housed in the former courthouse of Antigua's capital, St John's, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda opened in 1985. Managed by the Historical and Archaeological Society, it interprets the history of Antigua from the island's geological birth until its political independence in 1967. Collecting is central to the museum's ethos and it has developed a large collection of items relating to its local history through acquisitions and donations. It also has a digital records library with over 25,000 records available to browse.
The exhibits themselves trace the history of Antigua chronologically. The first gallery maps the geological development of the island using natural history specimen and artist interpretations alongside text panels. There are also displays that showcase the traditional crafts of the island, including basket weaving.
The second gallery then explores the arrival of the Europeans to the island and the development of the plantation economy fueled by the transatlantic slave trade. Here the displays examine what life was like on the plantations, using objects that highlight the brutal nature of enslavement, as well as archaeological samples that provide an insight into the everyday life of the enslaved. Some text panels provide information about instances of resistance, alongside images of supporting archival sources.
The final gallery explores how the island developed following the abolition and then the emancipation of the slave trade, two world wars and political independence. Here, objects are complemented with oral testimonies from local people.
The museum also has a gallery for temporary exhibitions focussing on different aspects of Antigua and Barbuda's local history. It also runs a programme of community events, and a series of education sessions for schools.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park was established in 2003, the 100th anniversary of Tubman's death, in rural Dorchester County. In 2017 the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Centre was officially opened. The visitor centre was a collaborative project between the US National Park Service and the Maryland Park Service. The building houses exhibition space, a research library and gift shop. Also on location is a public pavilion and legacy garden.
The design of the site was built around the importance of northward movement in the slave's quest for freedom. The legacy garden stretches out north between the buildings, offering an expansive and hopeful view. The view south is more enclosed and fragmented, reflecting the intolerable existence for those enslaved. The visitor centre houses an exhibition that chronicles the life and accomplishments of Tubman; her birth into slavery, escaping and subsequently returning to free friends and family, her work as a Union spy and her activism after the Civil War. The story is told through a combination of interpretive text, videos, murals, dioramas and her own powerful words.
The park and visitor centre are open seven days a week and are free to the public. The visitor centre also provides further information on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway Driving Tour, which has 36 stops throughout the Eastern Shore of Maryland linked to Tubman's life.
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture was created out of the passion and activism of businessman Reginald F. Lewis. Lewis rose from humble beginnings to earn a place at Harvard Law School, establish the first African American law firm on Wall Street and become the wealthiest African American in the US. In 1993, he died suddenly after a short illness. During his illness, he made known his desire to create a museum of African American culture and after his death, the non-profit foundation started in his memory accomplished that.
The museum is located in downtown Baltimore close to one of the several locations of former slave pens. The collection 'explores the African American experience and tells the universal story of the struggle for liberty, equality and self-determination.' The main collection is housed on the third floor and is divided into three sections: Building Maryland, Building America; The Strength of the Mind; Things Hold Lines Connect. Building Maryland, Building America has a heavy focus on slavery, explaining the roles of the enslaved in urban and rural environments. Unlike the cotton plantations of the Deep South, Maryland slavery ranged widely: tobacco plantations, shipyards, oyster shucking and iron furnaces to name a few.
Throughout the exhibitions, the interpretive text is supplemented with interactive displays, video and audio presentations and artwork. The overreaching message of the museum is that African Americans have contributed to the US since their initial forced arrival and have worked tirelessly to better their plight; through emancipation, the right to vote, the Civil Rights Movement and into the more recent social movements. The museum does not shy away from presenting the brutal side of slavery and Jim Crow, with slave collars, shackles, reward notices and video in connection to lynching are sensitively displayed.
The ground floor of the museum hosts temporary exhibitions and there is dedicated education space for the many school trips they host during the year. The museum also provides learning resources to assist with the local curriculum, offering lesson plans and outreach sessions in local schools. Throughout the year, the museum hosts a diverse range of events. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday with a small admission fee.