17 Museums/Art Galleries on HBCU Campuses You Should Visit

Home of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, also known as, “The Retreat” located on the campus of Bethune Cookman University, Daytona Be
Home of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, also known as, “The Retreat” located on the campus of Bethune Cookman University, Daytona Beach, Florida.

There are 17 Historically black colleges and universities that have museums, historical sites or art galleries on their campuses. These institutions hold some of the world’s most fascinating pieces of art, tell the story of important African American educators and leaders and secure the rich history of African Americans.

Some of the museums affords students the opportunity to not only learn about their history and art, but expose the students to the world of museums as a profession. A 2015 survey conducted by the Mellon Foundation found only 4% of African Americans in mainstream art museums as directors, curators, conservators and educators. As a self-proclaimed African American museum activist, I believe an introduction of the museum world to students on the campus of HBCU’s demonstrates opportunities while they pursue their career paths. Unbeknownst to many, there are several campuses that holds some of the most important works of art, artifacts and documents. Here is a brief introduce to these remarkable institutions:

Hampton University Museum, located on the campus of Hampton University is the oldest African American museum in the United States and the State of Virginia. Founded in 1868 with over 9,000 items in their collections, the museum houses art collections and objects relating to the history of the university.

Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation, located on the campus of Bethune Cookman University was created “as a place to awaken people and to have them realize that there is something in the world they can do” in the words of Mrs. Bethune. Dr. Bethune’s home, which was known as “The Retreat” was built by an African American builder by the name of Mr. A.B. Raddick around 1905.

Margaret Walker Center, located in Avery Hall at Jackson State University is an archive and museum dedicated to the preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of African-American history and culture. The namesake of the institution is Dr. Margaret Walker who founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life, and Culture of Black People.

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, located in Atlanta, Georgia on the campus of Spelman College, is the only museum in the nation dedicated to art by and about women of the African Diaspora. Since its opening in 1996, the museum has presented first rate and mission driven art.

Fisk University Galleries, has over 4,000 objects in its galleries from world renowned artists that include, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Henry O. Tanner, Elizabeth Catlett, Diego Rivera, Aaron Douglas, Winold Reiss, Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Located on the campus of Fisk University the museum gives audiences an opportunity to appreciate art.

Tuskegee Institute National Historical Site & Legacy Museum are a part of a consortium of museums that include the Dr. George W. Carver Museum, The Booker T. Washington Home-The Oaks and the Tuskegee Airmen Museum. As part of the National Park Service, the historical sites allows visitors to learn about two great men in African American history and the Tuskegee Airmen.

University Museum at Texas Southern University, located in Houston, Texas is the only historically black college and university in the Southwest to have a museum of art. The museum is the permanent home of the mural masterpiece "Web of Life" by John Biggers.

Southern University Museum of Art is located on the downtown campus of the Shreveport campus to assure that the art, artifacts, and other treasured works of Africans, African-Americans and their descendants are accessible to the community in an organized and cherished collection, in a place of historic significance on the campus of Southern University at Shreveport.

James H. Lewis Museum of Art is located on the campus of Morgan State University. The museum was created to enhance the scholastic experience of the students of Morgan State by exposing them to art and providing an opportunity to experience exhibitions, programs and lectures.

North Carolina Central Art Museum has one of the state of North Carolina’s leading collections of African American artists. The museum’s permanent collection contains works by Edward M. Banniester & Henry Ossawa Tanner. Located on the campus of North Carolina Central, the museum not only has exhibitions but are complemented by lectures and other educational programs.

Diggs Gallery is located on the campus of Winston-Salem State University that was named as one of the top 10 African American art galleries in the nation. The gallery offers one of the largest exhibition spaces dedicated to the arts of Africa and the African Diaspora in North Carolina.

Howard University Art Gallery was founded in 1980 serves as a laboratory which aims to inspire young artists and others to appreciate the arts by providing exhibition space, training on developing, designing, installing and promoting their art, while learning the business of galleries including how to build art collections.

The University Museum And Cultural Center located on the campus of the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. The museum was established in 2005 and dedicated to the lives and culture of African Americans that helped shaped the culture of the university.

Tougaloo Art Collection has works by David Driskell, Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence. There are over 1150 works that are considered prestigious and includes a variety of visual art pieces. The Tougaloo Art Colony is a unique week long venue on the campus of Tougaloo College in Mississippi. Participants of the event are exposed to and intensive instruction by nationally and internationally renowned artists.

Clark Atlanta University Museum has over 1200 works of art-African American modern art and traditional African art. The collections include paintings, murals, sculpture and works on paper acquired through annual purchases and donations. Located on the campus of Clark Atlanta University, works by Henry Ossawa and Romare Bearden are included in the collection.

The Carrie Meek-James N. Eaton, Sr. Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum is located on the campus of Florida A & M University. The museum was officially housed in Carnegie Library in 1976 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. More than 500,000 individual archival records and more than 5,000 individual museum artifacts are included in the museum’s collection.

State Black Archives Research Center and Museum is located in the James H. Wilson building on the campus of Alabama A & M University. The museum goals are to encourage greater awareness of the achievements and contributions of African Americans and the role they have played in American society and the world and to provide a better basis for understanding racial and cultural differences. The museum has several permanent exhibitions including; The Buffalo Soldier and The Ignoble Mission.

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