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.
The American Museum in Britain is housed in a manor house, built in 1820 by English architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville. It is the only museum of Americana outside the USA and was founded to 'bring American history and cultures to the people of Britain and Europe'. It uses a rich collection of folk and decorative arts to interpret these traditions from America's early settlers to the twentieth century. Living history events bring these stories to life, in addition to changing temporary exhibitions which keep the narrative up to date. The museum opened to the public in 1961 as the brainchild of two antiques dealers.
The museum's collections are a rich source of furniture, portraiture and textiles from America, displayed thematically within period rooms acting as gallery spaces. The 'American Heritage' exhibition, charting the history of America through the narration of key events and people dominates a large proportion of this space. Key collections highlights in this exhibition include Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech and a range of treasures from New Mexico.
Also contained within the 'American Heritage' exhibition is a small display about slavery and abolition in America. The main focal point of this display is a quilt made by enslaved people on a plantation in Texas. Other themes addressed here include the Underground Railroad, prominent abolitionists and the importance of the Civil War in the eventual abolition of slavery.
The Cowper & Newton Museum is a very small, local museum managed by a charitable trust and staffed predominantly by volunteers. The museum is situated in Orchard House, the home of poet and author William Cowper between 1768 to 1786. Since it opened in 1900, the museum has focussed on telling the story of Cowper’s life in the thriving Georgian market town of Olney, Buckinghamshire. The museum also examines Cowper's relationship with his friend and neighbour, slave-trader turned ordained priest and abolitionist, Reverend John Newton.
The museum’s mission is for visitors to ‘relive Georgian life in Olney.’ Using items of personal collections relating to both of the museum’s namesakes, the displays bring the house to life in the form of period room settings combined with display cases and interpretive panels. Both Cowper and Newton published writings against the slave trade and corresponded with other abolitionists, including William Wilberforce. The displays provide some context on the slave trade before outlining Cowper and Newton’s involvement in abolition. This is represented through a range of objects including archive material, portraits and furniture both from the museum’s collection, and loaned pieces from Wilberforce House Museum, Hull.
As well as being a theme which runs throughout the whole museum, with Cowper’s ‘The Negro’s Complaint’ on display in the Georgian History Room for instance, there is one particular room on the first floor of the house which focuses predominantly on the slave trade and abolition. Like most of the museums analysed here, the interpretive panels in this display were created using funds made available for the bicentenary in 2007.
The Harriet Tubman Museum is a small museum located in Cambridge, Maryland, a few miles from where Harriet Tubman was born. The museum originated as a community organization which was planning a single three-day event honouring Harriet Tubman in 1983. Over the years, the Harriet Tubman Organisation has adjusted its goals; today its mission 'is to develop programs and services for children and families and to preserve the history and memory of Harriet Tubman by offering the general public an interpretive history of her achievements.'
The museum's permanent exhibition is a combination of interpretive text and artefacts, many recovered from nearby plantations. The artefacts on display represent the objects that the enslaved would have used in their daily lives, as well as more brutal symbols of slavery like shackles. The museum, which accepts admission donations, is usually open Tuesday - Saturday. Through the museum, visitors can also organise trips to the actual property where Tubman was born and worked. The museum hosts school groups as well as a range of special events throughout the year.
The International Slavery Museum (ISM) is the first museum in the world to focus specifically on slavery, both historical and modern. Managed by National Musuems Liverpool, it opened to great acclaim in 2007 and has since welcomed over 3.5million visitors. Through its displays and wide-ranging events programme, the ISM aims to tackle ignorance and misunderstanding in today’s society by exploring the lasting impact of the transatlantic slave trade around the world. On entering the ISM, visitors immediately arrive in a space designed to provoke thoughts and discussion- the walls are etched with powerful quotations from historical figures and contemporary activists, many from the African diaspora. There is a display of West African culture, designed to showcase the breadth and depth of African civilisation before the devastation caused by the transatlantic slave trade, which includes examples of textiles, musical instruments and other ethnographic material. The display then goes on to look at the trade itself; the logistics, the processes and who benefitted on one hand, whilst also exploring the experience of the enslaved through multisensory interpretive techniques, including an emotive film of what the Middle Passage may have been like. All of these displays are supported by the rich, local archival collections, drawing on Liverpool’s own history as a prosperous, slave-trading port. Moving forward along a chronological timeline, the exhibition then covers abolition, significantly beginning with the acts of resistance from the enslaved themselves, through to organised abolition movements and then discussing the continued fight for freedom through the post-emancipation then civil rights era, right into the twenty-first century. The lasting legacies of the trade are thoroughly examined, from racism and the under-development of African countries, to the spread of African culture and diverse nature of Liverpool’s communities. A unique feature of the ISM is its ‘Campaign Zone’, opened in 2010, which houses temporary exhibitions just off the main gallery space. These are frequently run in conjunction with campaign organisations and usually focus on aspects of modern slavery, highlighting to visitors that it is very much still a live issue and not one that has been relegated to history. Recent exhibitions in this space have included 'Broken Lives' organised with the Daalit Freedom Network and 'Afro Supa Hero' with artist Jon Daniels.
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.
On the former site of a sugar factory, Guadelopue's Memorial ACTe stands as a cultural institution that aims to preserve the memory of those who suffered during slavery, as well as to act as a space for discussion on the continuing repercussions. Part of UNESCO's Slave Route project, its main focus is on the challenges of bondage in the Guadeloupe islands. Memorial ACTe was opened in 2015 by then French President, Francois Hollande, and nineteen other heads of state.
The Memorial ACTe is a unique museum, both internally and externally, through its architectural design. It is also a centre for live arts and debates. It aims to provide interpretation through a variety of viewpoints and disciplines, using not only history but ethnology, social anthropology and history of art as well. The history of slavery and the slave trade are explored through a range of archival material, images and artefacts, with visual and audio installations too.
The permanent exhibition space examines the history of slavery from antiquity to the present day, using objects, reconstructions, visual and audio installations and digital interactives. The temporary exhibition space focusses on contemporary forms of artistic expression in relation to slavery around the world. In addition, there is a research centre where visitors can look into their genealogy, as well as a library and a conference hall.
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 Museum of London Docklands houses the Port and River collections of the Museum of London. The aim of these museums is to showcase the growth and development of London, from the Roman era through to the present day. In a period of expansion for the Museum of London, the Museum of London Docklands was opened in 2003 in a Grade I listed warehouse on West India Quay, the historic trading heart of London.
Due to its location in a warehouse which would very likely have stored sugar, and other slave-produced items, the history of the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on London fits well within this space. ‘London, Sugar and Slavery’ was originally produced in 2007 as part of the bicentenary commemorations but has since become a permanent part of the museum. The displays have a local focus, supported through a wide range of objects, and consider the impact of the slave trade on London historically and today.
On entering the gallery visitors are met with a list of ships that traded slaves from the West India Quay- placing them right there in the story. Next there are discussions of the economics of slavery, and indications of how the money made from it changed the city of London forever. The exhibition also includes discussions of resistance, and abolition- centring the movement on the mass movement in the wider population with a case entitled ‘Abolition on the Streets.’ To bring the display up to date there is a discussion of representations of black people in popular culture, with objects including children’s books, film memorabilia, toys and prints, in line with a further piece on racism in London.
The National Maritime Museum is the largest maritime museum in the world. It forms part of the Royal Museums Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site. The NMM houses ten galleries that all showcase Britain’s Maritime History. Its mission is 'to enrich people’s understanding of the sea, the exploration of space, and Britain's role in world history’. ‘The Atlantic Worlds Gallery,' launched in 2007 for the commemoration of the bicentenary, charts the interconnections between Britain, Africa and the Americas between 1600 and 1850. The gallery is about the movement of people, goods and ideas across and around the Atlantic Ocean from the 17th century to the 19th century. The connections created by these movements affected people across three continents, impacting on their cultures and communities and shaping the world we live in today. Four main themes are explored within the gallery, including exploration, war, enslavement and resistance. These displays benefited extensively from the museum's purchase of the Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection in 2002. 'Atlantic Worlds' charts the triangular trade through African civilisations, enslavement and the Middle Passage, and the abolition movement. It recounts the stories of some of the people involved in the resistance movement and the campaign for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade – including Toussaint l’Ouverture, Olaudah Equiano and Samuel Sharp whose acts of resistance and rebellion were crucial to the turning of European public opinion against the trade. Its narrative also goes beyond the achievement of legal abolition in Britain, to include discussions of the Royal Navy's involvement in suppressing the trade world wide.
The National Museum Afroperuano (or National Museum of Afro-Peruvian History) opened in 2009. Housed in the 'House of Thirteen Coins', in Lima, the museum is dedicated to acquiring, preserving and interpreting objects relating to African history in Peru.
The exhibitions begin by examining the arrival of Africans in Peru, via the Portuguese slave trade. The interpretation explores the process of enslavement and transportation alongside the nature of plantation work and the treatment of the enslaved by the Portuguese. A range of artefacts, artist representations and artefacts visually present these issues to visitors.
The exhibition examines the abolition of slavery in 1856 following the rise of Simon Bolivar and the independence of Peru. Objects and photographs then depict the influences of African culture in different aspects of Peruvian life, including music, dress, art and food.
The Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American Museum was established by Sadie Roberts-Joseph in 2001. The museum is named for Odell S. Williams, a well-loved educator in the Baton Rouge area. It was founded as Joseph identified a need in the local community for a cultural space that celebrated African American history.
The museum has a range of vibrant exhibits, showcasing the contributions of local African Americans through history, across a range of different fields. These include, music, cuisine, education, politics and business. Visitors can step onboard an authentic bus from 1953 and explore Baton Rouge's role in the civil rights movement.
The museum's display on agriculture looks at the early plantation economy of the area, and the key crops that were grown then. It also explores the experience of the enslaved Africans that who used as labour on those plantations.
It has a broad events programme, and runs the area's annual Juneteenth event.
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 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.
The Seychelles Natural History Museum explores the history of the Seychelles, from the island's geological development to the Second World War. It is located in Victoria, the capital city, next to the main post office. The museum covers botany, zoology, geology and anthropology, as well as military and social history. It receives around 1,500 visitors per year, largely from overseas.
The museum has one gallery that is divided into thematic areas. Seven prominent aspects of Seychelles’ natural heritage are showcased through displays with artefacts and small dioramas. These include the flora and fauna of the island, religious practices and the movement for independence. Other areas examine traditional crafts and innovative inventions.
One of the sections in the exhibition examines the system of slavery that thrived in the Seychelles during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The majority of the enslaved were forcibly transported from Madagascar and Mozambique to work on the plantations. The display includes instruments of brutality, including an iron slave collar with bells that made escape impossible for the wearer. It also includes archival material, such as newspaper advertisements offering slaves for sale. The section finishes with an inspiring story of the enslaved resistance leader Pompey.
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum opened in 1983. It was set up by Drs. Elmer and Joanne Martin as a cultural and educational institution that focusses solely on the study and preservation of African American history. It is a unique organisation as it represents the histories it interprets through the use of life size wax figures, presented in historical settings. The museum has several objectives, including to increase interest in African American history, to use inspiring examples from history to motivate young people to achieve, and to improve race relations by dispelling myths of racial inequalities. The museum attracts around 300,000 visitors annually.
The museum features thirty-five installations of 'great blacks' in a range of scenarios. These cover a large temporal and geographic span, beginning with representations of key figures in pre-slavery Africa, through to dioramas of the space race and modern science. The key focus is on black achievement through all sectors of society, including politics, the military, sport and business.
Many of these installations link to the history of slavery in the United States. They examine the Middle Passage and captivity, plantation life and resistance with graphic displays of the instruments of brutality utilised in the system of enslavement. Others depict key characters in African American journeys to freedom including Henry 'Box' Brown and W.E.B. Dubois. The abolition movement is incorporated into the installations with the characters of Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth. The Underground Railroad is also depicted in a display with Harriet Tubman, amongst others. Many of these dioramas also incorporate models of children.
The displays continue to chart the twentieth century, examining the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power, and the Jim Crow Laws. Some of these dioramas illustrate the abhorrent nature of the racial violence that dominated the United States, such as lynching, in graphic detail.
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.
Wilberforce House Museum is one of the world's oldest slavery museums. It opened in 1906 after the building, the house where leading abolitionist William Wilberforce was born, was bought by the Hull Corporation to preserve it for reasons of learning and of civic pride. Initially a local history museum, at the centre of Hull's historic High Street, the collections soon expanded through public donations and, unsurprisingly, these donations focussed heavily on items relating to Wilberforce. Today the museum and its collections are owned by Hull City Council and managed by Hull Culture and Leisure Limited. It forms part of Hull's 'Museums Quarter' alongside museums on transport, local social history and archaeology. In addition to the Wilberforce displays, the museum also features period room settings, silver, furniture and clocks, as well as a gallery exploring the history of the East Yorkshire Regiment.
The galleries at Wilberforce House Museum tell many different stories. An exploration of the history of the house welcomes visitors into the museum, followed by displays about William Wilberforce from his childhood, to his work and his family life. These galleries have examples of costume, books, domestic items and even the 1933 Madame Tussauds wax model of Wilberforce himself. Up the grand cantilever staircase, installed by the Wilberforce family in the 1760s, the displays continue. Here they look at the history of slavery and the origins of the British transatlantic slave trade. One gallery contains items that illustrate the richness of African culture prior to European involvement, dispelling the traditional myth that Africa was empty and uncivilised before the intervention of the Western world. Following that, the exhibition narrative goes on to look at the process of enslavement, the logistics of the trading system, the Middle Passage and slave auctions. Again, a wide range of collections are used to illustrate the informative panels. This is repeated in the displays about plantation life and resistance.
Of course no museum about William Wilberforce would be complete without an exhibition on antislavery and the abolition movement. This is extended with two galleries which look at the legacies of such a campaign in terms of modern slavery and human rights today. There are opportunities in these galleries for visitors to provide their comments and opinions, through several interactives, as well as engage with ideas as to how they can actively participate in today's campaign to end modern slavery.