Celebrating Black History Month at the National Afro-American Museum
Recently, I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of the newly renovated National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center (NAAMCC) in Wilberforce. It was a relaxing getaway trip and a chance for this northern Ohioan to trek down “south” and see all the wonderful updates that have been done to the building. With Black History Month just a few days away, I also thought this would be a great place to learn about Ohioʼs significant contributions to African- American culture through art.
The museum, located on the campus of Central State University, a historically black college, and next to Wilberforce University, another historically black institution, opened its doors in 1988 as the first national museum dedicated to African-American history. After undergoing renovations over the last two years, the NAAMCC is now ready to open its doors again.
When I visited the museum, staff was preparing for the grand reopening celebration and ribbon cutting. People were scurrying around putting the final touches on the new exhibit, How I Got Over, about how African- Americans work to overcome obstacles and mobilize communities.
Located in the John E. Fleming Gallery, the exhibition is named after the museumʼs founding director, and includes a mixed- media assortment of paintings, quilts, mosaics, sculptures and woodcarvings.
The images follow three main themes, Spirituality – because a strong faith base plays an essential role in African-American culture, Protest – because African-Americans took a stand for justice, and Celebration – because African-Americans show pride in their heritage.
The impressive display spans decades and includes amazing pieces by local artists like acclaimed Dayton artist Bing Davis, and Hayward Dinsmore, a former Art Director at Central State University, as well as many talented national artists. There is also a community resource center where visitors can learn about the artist, and a community studio where children can recreate the images they see in the exhibit. Art majors, from both Central State and Wilberforce are also on hand as volunteers.
This exhibit is just the beginning for the reemerging museum with more exhibits opening throughout the year. There also is a great exhibit hall that is utilized for functions like weddings, receptions and educational exhibits.
As a lover of history and art, I enjoyed my tour at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center for its important and moving works. The museum celebrated its grand opening over the weekend on January 26, and the exhibit will be on display throughout the year. The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.