|Location||803 East Pratt Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture is Maryland's largest museum focused on the state's African-American history and culture, as well as nationally, and on the African diaspora. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum offers a permanent collection, rotating special exhibitions, a resource center, as well as programs such as a film series, a recurring open mic night, live music series, and family programming. The 82,000 square-foot facility also houses a museum cafe' serving soul food, a classroom, meeting spaces, and a theater.
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum tells stories of perseverance, triumph and celebration through its permanent collection. The rich contributions of African American Marylanders and is divided into three galleries:
The gallery explores the extraordinary economic accomplishments of African Americans, from tobacco and ironworking to education and law, often achieved against incredible odds. The exhibits explains how ancient African skills influenced laborers in Maryland. Visitors are invited to learn about the first black trade union and to try their hand at some of the most difficult occupations, including operating oyster tongs.
This gallery explores the role of family and community in giving African Americans strength and connection. Visitors can learn about several Maryland families and follow their lives from slavery to freedom and equality. There are exhibits on Maryland icons such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
This gallery showcases how African American traditions of music, art, sculpture, storytelling and invention have influenced American culture. Maryland figures such as Benjamin Banneker, Eubie Blake, and Joyce Scott are highlighted.
Audiences are invited to participate in programs that relate to the museum's permanent and special exhibitions.
On the third Thursday of the month, the galleries remain open late and audiences can enjoy a live jazz show in the theater. Food from the museum cafe for purchase and a cash bar are available.
The interactive programs in this monthly series are geared towards families. Storytelling, music, movement, and hands-on crafts come together to teach children about topics ranging from African American art history, self-identity, to jazz appreciation.
The museum screens films every month on topics ranging from the history of soul food, to civil rights. Post-screening panel discussions often follow.
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum offers programs that encourage students, educators and families to celebrate and think critically about African American history and culture in Maryland. The museum's collection explores the African American experience and tells the universal story of the struggle for liberty, equality and self-determination.
The Resource Center offers genealogy research services for free to the public. The public may also peruse the reference collection with a focus on African American history and culture. Titles cover such topics as the Maryland African American experience and art history of the African Diaspora. The collection includes children's books and the Mary Carter Smith Folklore Collection.
Originally designated as the Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture, the Museum's beginning was the result of a statewide analysis of existing and potential state resources related to African American heritage tourism. The analysis concluded that there was a substantial need and significant potential for a statewide museum to protect and interpret Maryland's African American history and culture. In 1998, the Maryland African American Museum Corporation was formalized as a 501 (c)(3) organization and as an independent unit of the executive branch of the State of Maryland. The 32 member Board of Directors brought an Executive Director on board to help guide the Museum to fruition.
While the State of Maryland committed $30 million toward the design and capital construction costs of the institution, the City of Baltimore donated the land on which the Museum is located. In June 2002, the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation awarded the Museum a $5 million endowment to be used in conjunction with all educational programs.
The museum is named after Baltimore, Maryland native Reginald F. Lewis. He was the first African American to build and head a billion-dollar business and the first African American to found a law firm on Wall Street. Before his death at age 50 from a brief illness, he made known his desire to support a museum of African American culture. His foundation made a $5 million gift towards the launch of the museum, which opened its doors in June 2005.