Museums and other cultural institutions have been required to adapt to social-distancing COVID protocols in the last year. However, they still remain a very important place of learning, digitally or in person. In the wake of the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAAPIHate movements of the last year, we want to highlight a few museums dedicated to the history and experiences of people of color (POC).
San Francisco, CA
I first visited this museum when I was in high school, blissfully unaware of how remarkable it was to actually have a museum dedicated entirely to Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) arts and culture. The museum’s collection spans from antiquity to present day, with all objects viewable via the online catalog. From miniature jade sculptures to digital installations, there is something for all art lovers. The museum is currently open by reservation.
Featured recently on WCVB’s New England travel show Chronicle, the Institute for American Indian Studies boasts both Ethnographic and Archaeological collections. Additionally, in the newly launched exhibit Wigwam Escape, visitors are transported back to 1518 and are challenged to escape the room using historical technology and their problem-solving skills. The museum is currently open Fridays through Sundays.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest member of this list and a part off the Smithsonian Institution. Completed in 2016 and designed by architects David Adjaye and Philip Freelon, the National Museum stands proudly on the North lawn of the National Mall. Although the museum is temporarily closed, they have provided a wealth of free online resources to the public and are hosting several recurring virtual events for students.
Located steps away from an Underground Railroad site in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, the museum’s mission states that it hopes to “inspire all generations to embrace and interpret the authentic stories of New Englanders of African descent, and those who found common cause with them, in their quest for freedom and justice.” The museum focuses on “tell[ing] remarkable and vivid historical accounts about the lives of free African Americans and white abolitionists whose efforts changed a nation.” Because this museum is so rooted in the local history of Boston and its surrounding neighborhoods, a visit is likely to be a different (though equally valuable) experience compared to that at the National Museum. The museum has a second location on Nantucket that is currently closed.
Long Beach, CA
Founded in 1996, MOLAA is the only American museum dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin and Latin American art. Although the museum is currently still closed, it has multiple digital exhibits on view and you can browse the permanent collection on Google Arts & Culture as well as online events for educators and students alike. They also have a curated Spotify playlist for the exhibit Arte, Mujer y Memoria.
We hope this list encourages you to stay curious and connected. Although several of these museums are closed, they have each made their collections accessible digitally in one way or another to encourage remote learning. Let us know your favorite museums off the beaten path below!