African American Museum in Philadelphia

Coordinates: 39°57′10″N 75°09′06″W / 39.9527972°N 75.1515694°W / 39.9527972; -75.1515694
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39°57′10″N 75°09′06″W / 39.9527972°N 75.1515694°W / 39.9527972; -75.1515694

African American Museum in Philadelphia
Former name
Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum
Location701 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Coordinates39°57′10″N 75°09′06″W / 39.952797°N 75.151569°W / 39.952797; -75.151569
DirectorAshley Jordan, Ph.D.[1]
CuratorDejay Duckett[2]
Public transit accessBus transport SEPTA bus: 47, 48

The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is notable as the first museum funded and built by a municipality to help preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage of African Americans. Opened during the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations, the AAMP is located in historic Philadelphia on Arch Street, a few blocks away from the Liberty Bell.[3] It was formerly known as the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum.


AAMP currently houses four galleries and an auditorium, each of which offers exhibitions anchored on one of three dominant themes: The African Diaspora, the Philadelphia Story, and the Contemporary Narrative.

The museum is home to more than 750,000 objects, images and documents that are made available for research, exhibitions, for loan to other museums, and used in the museum's many educational programs. Temporary exhibits, as well as a variety of family events, workshops, films, tours, symposiums, and concerts relating to African-American culture and history are offered.[4]

The AAMP's collection includes, among other things, flyers, memos and memorabilia related to the Philadelphia Black Panthers, correspondence clippings and military artifacts of the first black doctor to direct a U.S. Army Hospital, academic and legal papers from Harry Shapiro on constitutional issues arising from the civil rights movement, African American occupational and domestic objects, family scrapbooks, sports memorabilia, church and burial records, and artifacts from the Ku Klux Klan.[5]


Philadelphia has long been known as an important center for African American history and culture. As the United States was being formed in the 18th century, Philadelphia was the center of the abolitionist movement and had the largest free black population.

Founding director[edit]

Charles H. Wesley was a noted African American historian, educator, and author. He was the fourth African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University. An ordained minister, Wesley's distinguished career included 40 years of leadership with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1976, he served as Director of what was then known as the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia.[6][7]


In 1997 the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum became known as the African American Museum in Philadelphia, under executive director Terri S. Rouse.[8]


In 2007, the AAMP received a $3 million grant from the city of Philadelphia for building renovations and improving displays for the museum's extensive collection.[9][10][11] The museum closed March 9, 2009, and reopened June 18, 2009, with the unveiling of AUDACIOUS FREEDOM, a new core exhibit installation featuring the early history of African Americans in Philadelphia (1776–1876).[12][13]

Relocation Plans[edit]

On August 11, 2022 it was announced by the City of Philadelphia that the Museum would move to the Family Court Building in preparation of the United States Semiquincentennial.[14]


The African American Museum in Philadelphia is a member of the Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AAMP names new President after a year long search". Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  2. ^ "About AAMP". Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  3. ^ "African American Museum in Philadelphia". Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Education". Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
  5. ^ "Collections & Exhibitions". Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  6. ^ "Dr. Charles H. Wesley". Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  7. ^ "African American Museum of Philadelphia: Charles H. Wesley of the African American Museum in Philadelphia". PhilaPlace. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  8. ^ Davis, Anthony (December 16, 1997). "African American Museum in Philadelphia". Philadelphia Tribune. p. 1D.
  9. ^ Clark, Vernon (12 September 2007). "African American Museum gets grant". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  10. ^ Jones, Ayana (2007). "Marketing pays off for Black museum". The Philadelphia Tribune.
  11. ^ Van Allen, Peter (2 August 2007). "Philadelphia museum makes a comeback". Philadelphia Business Journal.
  12. ^ "African American Museum in Philadelphia". Museums of the World. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Audacious Freedom: African Americans inPhiladelphia, 1776-1876". African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter. 12 (2). 1 June 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  14. ^ Conde, Ximena. "African American Museum will move to former Family Court building on Ben Franklin Parkway". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2022-08-11.
  15. ^ "Affiliate Profile: African American Museum in Philadelphia". Smithsonian Affiliations. Retrieved 26 June 2020.

External links[edit]