From the Black Panther Party to Sun Ra to Harold Washington, Chicago has played a major role in African-American history. So it's no wonder that the nation's first museum of African-American history would be located here. Founded in 1961 by the late Charles Burroughs and his wife Margaret, the DuSable Museum had its beginnings in two rooms of an apartment on the South Side before it moved to its current building in Washington Park.
Named for the Haitian fur trader Jean Baptist Pointe DuSable, the museum houses a permanent collection of artifacts, books, slave documents, civil rights memorabilia and archives of original documents, manuscripts, rare books, films, recordings and bibliographic files. You'll begin your tour with "Africa Speaks," a permanent exhibit of current and past artifacts and textiles from select regions of Africa, then transition into more temporary installations, such as "Soul Soldiers: African-Americans and the Vietnam Era."
Explore rooms full of paintings, drawings and sculpture by Charles White, Archibald Motley, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Elizabeth Catlett among others, as well as photography (of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others), and a replica of Mayor Harold Washington's office. Many exhibitions focus specifically on Chicago, but the overall emphasis is on the place of African-Americans throughout this nation's history.
The museum has recently undergone major renovations and redesigned its interior and shop. The collection still feels a bit small, but there are plans for further expansion.
Admission is $3 ($2 for students and seniors, $1 for children 6-13); it's free for all on Sundays.
Centerstage Reviewer: Beatrice Smigasiewicz