California African American Museum

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Coordinates: 34°00′57″N 118°17′00″W / 34.015806°N 118.283465°W / 34.015806; -118.283465

California African American Museum (CAAM)
California African American Museum - entrance.JPG
California African American Museum is located in Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
California African American Museum
Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Established 1981
Location Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°00′57″N 118°17′00″W / 34.015806°N 118.283465°W / 34.015806; -118.283465
Type African American museum
Director Executive Director: Charmaine Jefferson
Curator Tiffini Bowers (History), Sonia Brown (Education)
Public transit access Expo Park/USC (Expo Line)

The California African American Museum (CAAM) is a museum located in Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California, USA. The Museum focuses on enrichment and education on the cultural heritage and history of African Americans with a focus on California and western United States.

CAAM hosts independent and collaborative educational programs both on and off site of lectures, workshops, innovative programs, and hands-on activities that serve public and private school students, museum patrons and community visitors.


The CAA Museum was chartered by the State of California in 1977 and first opened in 1981, in temporary quarters at the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California Science Center).[1]


The current facility was built with State and private funds of around $5 million. The museum was designed by the African–American architects Jack Haywood and (the late) Vince Proby.[2] The new museum building opened to the public during the Los Angeles Olympic Games in July 1984. A major renovation occurred between 2001 and 2003.

The museum occupies a 44,000 square feet (4,100 m2) building. It includes three exhibition galleries, a theater gallery, a 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) sculpture court, a conference center special events room, an archive and research library. Behind the scenes there are administration offices, exhibit design and artifact storage areas. A 2011 preliminary planning by design firm Huff and Gooden Architects pegged the cost at $67.3 million for a major expansion and renovation that would nearly triple the size of the museum.[3]


CAAM exists to research, collect, preserve and interpret for public enrichment, the history, art and culture of African Americans. The museum conserves more than 3,500 objects of art, historical artifacts and memorabilia, and maintains a research library with more than 20,000 books and other reference materials available for limited public use.

The permanent collection includes paintings, photographs, sculpture and artifacts representing the diverse contributions of African Americans. The collection ranges from African art to 19th-century landscape. Along with its permanent collection, CAAM hosts specially mounted exhibitions curated out of its own collection, as well as traveling exhibitions from other museums.

Recent exhibitions include:

  • "The Whole World's Watching: Peace and Social Justice Movements of the 1960s and 1970s,"
  • "Milton Bowens' Writings on the Walls,"
  • "National Pastime in Black and White: The Negro Baseball Leagues,"
  • "Azucar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz,"
  • "Orphans of the Rwanda Genocide: Portraits of Survival and Hope,"
  • "Intersections of South Central: People and Places in Historic and Contemporary Photographs,"
  • "In the Hands of African American Collectors: The Personal Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey" (the Kinsey Collection)[4]
  • "Black Chrome" concerning the West Coast's Black motorcycling experience.[5]


The California African American Museum has a budget of about $3.5 million a year. Admission is free. The state provides $2.5 million, augmented by funds from a private nonprofit museum foundation that in recent years has generated annual contributions and other revenues of $650,000 to $1.4 million.[6]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • California African-American Museum. (2004). California African American Museum: "The Brown decision: A California perspective" : a roundtable discussion. Los Angeles?: Eighth and Wall Inc.
  • Biggers, J. T., Hammons, D., Outterbridge, J., Cummings, M., Johnson-Calloway, M., California Afro-American Museum Foundation., J. Paul Getty Trust., Crystal Productions. (1991). African American art. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Trust.