- Annotated Bibliography
Historical Literature on Founding of African American Museums (US, 1970–2016)
African American Museums Association. Profile of Black Museums: A Survey Commissioned by the African American Museums Association. Washington, DC: African American Museums Association, 1988.
The African American Museums Association conducted this report in 1988. It was the first report of its kind done on the state of African American Museums. Completed on the tenth anniversary of the founding of the African American Museums Association, this comprehensive study presents a profile of all museums that identify as black museums across America and Canada in 1988. It covers nearly every aspect of these museums including information about visitors, staff, collections, and a summative definition of what it means to be a black museum.
Burns, Andrea A. From Storefront to Monument: Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013.
Andrea Burns' From Storefront to Monument examines how black communities in the 1960s and 1970s created their own cultural institutions where they could tackle issues of power, identity, and collective memory. Burns surveys four museums–the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago (founded in 1961); the International Afro-American Museum in Detroit (1965), The African American Museum of Philadelphia (1976), and the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in Washington, DC (1967), from their creation to the present day to highlight the innovators in the black museum movement. Ultimately, she cites the turbulent 1960s and the ideology of the black power movement as the push for the black museum movement. [End Page 319]
–. 2008. "Show Me My Soul!": The Evolution of the Black Museum Movement in Postwar America. PhD dissertation, University of Minnesota. Ann Arbor: ProQuest Dissertation Publishing. (Publication No. 3328293.)
Andrea Burns' dissertation on the black museum movement provides great insight into the leadership and planning of "neighborhood" museums built throughout the country after World War II. It is a precursor to the her book From Storefront to Monument, where Burns explores the histories of five neighborhood museums–the DuSable Museum of African American History; the International Afro-American Museum; the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum; the Studio Museum; and the African American Museum in Philadelphia. She argues that these leaders grounded their institutions in the ideology of what became known as the black power movement. This ideology guided all of their decisions, including their museum's exhibits, missions, and educational programs. She also intends to show how these museums changed from small community museums to large institutions intent on presenting black history to a national audience.
Coleman, Christy. "African American Museums in the Twenty-first Century." In Museum Philosophy for the Twenty-first Century, 151–160. Edited by Hugh H. Genoways. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press, 2006.
Christy Coleman's "African American Museums in the Twenty-first Century" addresses the current state of museums from a point of view that analyzes the history of outside forces on museum operations along with changing social movements within American society. Unlike mainstream museums, Coleman argues that African American museums possess a grassroots nature which made them more susceptible to outside forces such as varying degrees of community support, changes in the market, and competition from mainstream museums themselves. Because of their grassroots history and organization, these museums were often unorganized. In order for these museums to survive in the twenty-first century, new leadership must establish a professional standard to museum practices.
Collier-Thomas, Bettye. "An Historical Overview of Black Museums and Institutions with Museums Functions 1800–1980." Negro History Bulletin 44, no. 3 (1981): 56–58.
In "An Historical Overview of Black Museums and Institutions with Museums Functions 1800–1980", Bettye Collier-Thomas argues that the tradition and founding of black museums extends back to the early 19th century when segregated institutions such as churches, schools, political societies, and other professional organizations carried out museum-like functions. These functions ranged from local small-town art and poetry exhibitions in A.M.E. churches to [End Page 320] larger scale exhibitions like the 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exhibition. Although they were not formally called museums, these institutions carried the torch that gave recognition to African American history and culture until Historically Black Colleges and Universities...