Do you know what Cultural and Heritage Travel is? Cultural Travel means experiencing life from within a foreign culture, rather than from the point of view of a temporary visitor. Cultural travelers leave their home environment at home, bringing only themselves and a desire to become part of the culture they visit. Cultural travel goes beyond exploration, and involves a complete transformation in way of life.
Some of us are able to visit faraway places where some of the museums and centers listed below are located. Fortunately, there are many centers and museums in the United States that also give us a cultural experience. These museums and centers are great places to visit during the summer and great educational experiences for children.
Cultural and Heritage Museums and Centers
African-American Museum; Philadelphia, PA: One of the oldest and best African American museums on both history and art, the museum, founded in1976, has four large galleries on three floors. Throughout the year it hosts many visiting exhibits from notable scholars and artists and as well as different cultural programs. Visit www.aampmuseum.org.
African-American Research Library and Cultural Center; Fort Lauderdale, FL: A general-service library, as well as a research facility and cultural center containing more than 75,000 books and related materials on the experiences of people of African descent, the center also contains a 5,000 square-ft. museum. www.broward.org/library/aarlcc.htm
African Museum of Lyon (Musée Africain de Lyon); Lyon, France: This is the oldest museum in France that is dedicated to Africa, and one of the oldest museums in Lyon. Here is where you can find special collections of West African objects and artifacts. The museum was created in 1861 by the Society of African Missions. www.musee-africain-lyon.org
Afro-Antillean (Spanish) Museum; Panama City, Panama: Located in a building that was once a church that was probably built in the 1850’s by Afro-Antilleans who worked on the railroad, here is where you can learn about the construction of the Panama Canal. The museum contains photographs, artistic and domestic objects from the Afro-Antilleans who helped construct the Panama Canal. Artifacts from Martinique, Haiti and Jamaica are also displayed. http://www.panama-museums.com
Afro-Brazil Museum (Museu Afro Brasil); São Paulo, Brazil: This museum features over 3,000 works which highlight the importance of black Brazilians in the creation of national culture, heritage and identity . www.museuafrobrasil.com.br.
Apartheid Museum; Johannesburg, South Africa: This museum complex occupies approximately 6 000 square meters and is dedicated to illustrating apartheid and the 20th century history of South Africa. Its exhibits animate the apartheid story using blown-up photographs, artifacts, newspaper clippings, film footage and more that was set up by team of curators, filmmakers, historians and designers. www.apartheidmuseum.org.
August Wilson Center for African American Culture; Pittsburgh, PA:This non-profit organization celebrates the contributions of African-Americans within the region and the impact of cultural expression from Africa to the African Diaspora through performing, visual and education programs. www.augustwilsoncenter.org
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Birmingham, AL: Located in the heart of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the Civil Rights Institute charts the origins, tragedies, successes, and progress of the Movement and the evolution of the dynamic city of Birmingham. www.bcri.org
Bob Marley Museum; Kingston, Jamaica: The life and achievements of this legendary Rastaman, reggae musician and socio-political hero are portrayed at this museum through artifacts, memorabilia, documents, books, photographs and more. www.bobmarley-foundation.com/museum.html
Buffalo Soldiers National Museum; Houston, TX: – With a mission of preserving and promoting the history and contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers, the museum contains artifacts, documents, media and historical memorabilia detailing the history of the brave men and women who overcame adversities while fighting to protect America. www.buffalosoildiermuseum.com.
California African American Museum; Los Angeles, CA: This 44,000 square ft. facility includes 3 full-size exhibition galleries, a theater gallery, conference center/event room library and administrative offices. The museum contains more than 3,500 objects of art, historical artifacts and memorabilia, and a research library with more than 20,000 books. www.caamuseum.org
Charles Wright Museum of African America History; Detroit, MI: This museum is an educational center that provides learning opportunities, exhibitions, programs and events based on collections and research that explore the diverse history and culture of African Americans and their African origins. www.maah-detroit.org.
Du Sable Museum of African American History; Chicago, IL: Founded in 1961the DuSable Museum unites art, history and culture. Dedicated to the collection, documentation, preservation and study of the history and culture of Africans and African Americans, this museum is contains more than 15,000 pieces that include paintings, sculpture, print works and historical memorabilia. www.dusablemuseum.org.
Great Blacks in Wax Museum; Baltimore, MD: This unique museum is the first one of wax in Baltimore, and the first wax museum of African American history in the country. A dynamic cultural and educational institution, it contains life-size, life-like wax figures highlighting historical and contemporary personalities of African ancestry. Visit www.greatblacksinwax.org.
Harvey Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture; Charlotte, NC: Celebrating the contributions to American culture by African and African-Americans, this epicenter for the arts-dance, film, music, and theatre-adds a nice cultural touch to the ever-progressive city of Charlotte. http://www.ganttcenter.org
IFAN Museum of African Arts; Dakar, Senegal: One of the oldest art museums in West Africa, this museum is one of the most prestigious centers for the study of African culture. It contains one of the most an impressive and extensive collection of masks, statues and art exhibits from all over West. http://www.senegal-tourism.com.
International Slave Museum; Liverpool, England: Located in Liverpool’s Albert Dock, the museum is only yards away from the dry docks where 18th century slave trading ships were repaired and fitted out. Through its many exhibits and documentations, it serves to provide opportunities for greater awareness and understanding of the legacy and horrors of slavery. http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism
King Center; Atlanta, GA: Honoring, sharing, and preserving the legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the King Center in Atlanta documents America’s greatest non-violent movement for justice and equality. http://www.theKingcenter.org
Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Center; New York, NY: The advancement of human rights and social justice is the mission of this educational center as it honors the lives and legacies of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz by continuing the work of Al Hajj Malik, Malcolm X, and Dr. Betty Al-Shabazz. http://www.theshabazzcenter.net/
Muhamed Ali Center; Louisville, KY: Both a cultural and education attraction, the Ali Center educates visitors on the life of Muhamed Ali using Ali’s six core values of respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, and spirtuality to inspire within visitors a sense of greatness, respect, and understanding. www.alicenter.org
Museum of African American History; Boston, MA With a branch also in Nantucket, this is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving and interpreting the contributions of African Americans. Through exhibits, programs and educational activities, the museum tells the story of organized black communities from the Colonial Period through the 19th century. www.afroammuseum.org .
Museum of African Diaspora; San Francisco,CA: Embracing the newest applications in media technology, the museum features an interactive theater and immersive exhibitions art, culture and technology to bring Africa, the African Diaspora and the world community closer together. www.moadsf.org .
Museum Kurá Hulanda; Willemstad, Curacao: An anthropological world-class museum that focuses on the main cultures of Curacao, it chronicles the Origin of Man, the African slave trade, West African Empires, Antillean art and more.In the museum store, you can purchase a wide variety of African music art , mask and sculptures, games and much more from all over the continent. www.kurahulanda.com/museum
Museum of Our African Roots; Old San Juan, Puerto Rico: This is where you can learn about the African cultural influence of Puerto Rico. This heritage is celebrated through paintings, artifacts, documents and photographs at the museum. www.puertorico.com/museums/
National Civil Rights Museum; Memphis, TN: Located at the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the museum chronicles aspects of the civil rights movement and its legacy in order to inspire participation in civil and human rights efforts globally, through our collections, exhibitions, and educational programs. http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org-
National Cultural Center; Kumasi, Ghana: A must-see for visitors to Ghana located in the Ashanti region, the Center is considered as the show piece for Ghanaian culture. The Center is the seat of the nation’s cultural heritage and houses materials and objects of national importance. www.ghana-net.com/art_in_Kumasi.aspx
National Museum of Ghana; Accra, Ghana: The largest and oldest of the six museums under the administration of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board , this museum opened in 1957 as part of Ghana’s independence celebrations. Here you can view archeology objects, ethnography, art, sculptures, masks, musical instruments and different exhibits from many African countries. www.ghana-net.com/national_museum.aspx
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Cincinnati, OH: This fascinating center documents the historic slave trade and the estimated 100,000 enslaved persons who escaped to freedom using an underground network of ‘conductors,’ free blacks, whites, and Native Americans who recognized the evils of slavery. The center also promotes awareness of modern-day slavery and has a genealogy center where families can receive help tracing their roots at no cost. www.freedomcenter.org/
Nelson Mandela Museum; Mthatha, South Africa: This museum opened its doors in 2000 has been visited by thousands of South African and international tourists every year. One of South Africa’s most significant heritage institutions, the museum houses an exhibition on Mandela’s book ” Long Walk to Freedom.” The museum gives an account of his life in context, and preserves a collection of gifts given to Mandela. www.nelsonmandelamuseum.org.za.
Negro League Baseball Museum; Kansas City, MO: Founded in 1990, the museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of African-American baseball thorough multi-media displays and exhibits, hundreds of photographs and artifacts dating from the 1800s through the 1960’s. www.nlbm.com.
North American Black Historical Museum; Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada: In addition to the exhibit building, the museum complex also includes a cultural centre and an historic residence and church. Here you can discover Black history, and explore a home of escaped slaves as well as a church that began lives of freedom. www.blackhistoricalmuseum.org.
Ouidah Museum of History; Ouidah, Benin: The museum houses important research collections from several subsequent archaeological excavations in the Ouidah-Savi area. It contains a wealth of objects and illustrations of historic and cultural significance, which together gives the visitor an intimate understanding of the region’s past and the trans-atlantic slave trade. www.MuseeOuidah.org
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; New York, NY: A leading research facilities devoted to the preservation of materials on the global African and African diasporan experiences, this center has collected, preserved, and provided access to material relating to black culture and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent for over 80 years. www.nypl.org/locations/schomburg
W. E. B. Dubois Center for Pan African Culture; Accra, Ghana: Located in Dubois’ residence in Ghana, this cultural center houses the mausoleum, personal library, and museum of the Du Boises’ rich lives as influential American and Pan-African thinkers and activists. A popular tourist attraction and a national monument of Ghana, it serves as focal point for African/Diasporan creativity and promotion of the social, political, cultural, and intellectual legacy of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois himself complete with restaurant and artist studio rental space on-site. www.webdubois-gh.org/