This is a list of museums in the United States whose primary focus is on African American culture and history. Such museums are commonly known as African American museums. According to scholar Raymond Doswell, an African-American museum is an institution established for the preservation of African-derived culture.
Museums have a mission of collecting and preserving material on history and cultural heritage of African Americans. African-American museums share these goals with archives, genealogy groups, historical societies, and research libraries. Museums differ from archives, genealogy groups, historical societies, and research libraries because they have as a basic educational or aesthetic purpose the collection and display of objects, and regular exhibitions for the public. Being open to the public (not just researchers or by appointment) and having regular hours sets museums apart from historical sites or other facilities that may call themselves museums.
The first African-American museum was the College Museum in Hampton, Virginia, established in 1868. Prior to 1950, there were about 30 museums devoted primarily to African-American culture and history in the United States. These were located primarily at historically black colleges and universities or at libraries that had significant African-American culture and history collections.
Important collections were developed at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina; Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania; Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland; Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama; and Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. Additionally, local historical societies, history clubs, and reading groups in African-American communities also collected and displayed African-American cultural artifacts.
The first independent, nonprofit museums in the United States were the African American Museum in Cleveland, Ohio (founded in