International African American Museum opens in Charleston to Celebrate African American History

Malika N. Pryor gives a tour in preparation for the opening of the International African American Museum on Friday, June 23, 2023, in Charleston, S.C. Overlooking the old wharf at which nearly half of the enslaved population first entered North America, the 150,000-square foot museum houses exhibits and artifacts exploring how African Americans’ labor, perseverance, resistance and cultures shaped the Carolinas, the nation and the world. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The International African American Museum (IAAM) is a new cultural institution that celebrates the history and achievements of African Americans and their descendants. The museum opened to the public on June 23, 2023, in Charleston, South Carolina, at one of the country’s most historically significant slave-trading ports .

The museum is located on the former Gadsden’s Wharf, where almost half of the enslaved Africans who were brought to North America on slave ships disembarked in the United States. The museum honors the memory and resilience of these ancestors, as well as their contributions to the Carolinas, the nation and the world.

The museum features nine galleries that contain interactive exhibits, historical objects and works of art that explore various aspects of African American history and culture. Some of the topics include the origins and diversity of African civilizations, the horrors and impacts of the transatlantic slave trade, the development and preservation of Gullah Geechee culture, the struggles and triumphs of civil rights movements, and the contemporary expressions and innovations of African American communities .

The museum also includes a genealogy research center that helps visitors trace their family roots and connect with their ancestral heritage. The center provides access to databases, records and experts that can assist with genealogical research. The center also offers DNA testing kits that can reveal one’s ethnic origins and potential relatives .

The museum aims to be a place of learning, discovery and inspiration for people of all backgrounds and ages. It invites visitors to engage with the stories and perspectives of African Americans, and to reflect on their own identities and roles in society. The museum hopes to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diversity and richness of African American culture, and to promote dialogue and reconciliation among all people.

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