The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture is, according to its website, “the authentic voice of African American art, history and culture in Maryland … (it) celebrates the significant accomplishments and struggles of African Americans throughout 400 years of Maryland’s history. Through our groundbreaking exhibitions, permanent collection and timely programs and events, we are bridging the gap between the past and present.”
Situated in Inner Harbor at 830 E. Pratt Street in Baltimore, Maryland, the 82,000 square foot facility is one of the largest African American museums on the East coast. Its stated mission is “to collect, preserve, interpret, document, and exhibit the rich contributions of African American Marylanders using its collection of over 11,000 documents and objects and resources drawn from across the country.” An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum presents African American history and culture, in general, and Maryland’s African American community, in particular.
This institution is named in honor of the late Reginald F. Lewis (1942-1993), the first African-American to develop a billion-dollar company, TLC Beatrice International Holdings. At the time of his passing from brain cancer, Forbes listed Lewis among the America’s wealthiest, having a net worth estimated at $400 million (equivalent to approximately $710 million dollars in 2019). A native of Baltimore, Lewis wanted to support the creation of an African American museum in his city of origin. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, which opened in 2005, was made possible due to a five-million-dollar grant awarded by Lewis’ foundation.