With the mission that “brings diverse communities together in greater appreciation of the Black experience through the combined narrative of art culture and historical witness”, the African American Museum of Philadelphia is, according to its website, the “first institution funded and built by a major municipality to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage of African Americans”.
Previously known as the Afro-American Historical & Cultural Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when Dr. Charles Wesley signed on as its founding director in 1974, greater than 10,000 people would attend the Museum’s opening celebration and grand opening in the summer of 1976. The founding of the African American Museum of Philadelphia coincided with the Bicentennial celebration of the United States and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
In order to actualize its vision to “be an integral asset of the Philadelphia cultural landscape that makes a meaningful impact on visitors’ lives as they experience the stories of people of African descent through art, history and culture”, the museum utilizes its galleries and auditorium space to engage the community. These galleries and space provide enlightenment centered upon one of the three themes that the Museum, according to its literature, specifically emphasizes: the Africa Diaspora, the Philadelphia Story and the Contemporary Narrative.