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Welcome to the International African American Museum! Advanced timed tickets are required for all visitors. Popular dates and times may be sold out.

The Museum

Engage with history through transformative storytelling, remarkable artifacts and exhibitions, and a uniquely impactful power of place.

Illuminating Their Legacy.

Explore our wide-ranging exhibitions that tell the story of how Africans and African Americans—through their labor, resistance, and ingenuity—have shaped every aspect of our world. This story of trauma and triumph includes our publicly accessible African Ancestors Memorial Gardens and the deliberate, definitive design of our building.

About Our Exhibitions

The International African American Museum is home to 12 permanent exhibitions that include 9 galleries and one Special Exhibitions Gallery that rotates between two to three exhibitions annually, and an ongoing series of digital exhibitions published via the Google Arts & Culture platform.

 

Explore current Google Arts & Culture digital exhibitions:

The Seashore Farmer’s Lodge
The Living Legacy of Moving Star Hall
The Living Legacy of the Parks-Wilder Family
The Living Legacy of the International Longshoremen’s Association, Local 1422

ABOUT THE IAAM

Special Exhibitions

The Special Exhibitions Gallery is a 3000 sq ft. space dedicated to temporary, rotating exhibits. This gallery features a variety of historical, artistic, and immersive displays, which expand on the Museum’s core offerings. These include traveling shows curated by other leading institutions, as well as those originated by IAAM.

Find out more about IAAM’s latest special exhibition Follow the North Star: Freedom in the Age of Mobility.

Core
Exhibitions

Our permanent exhibitions feature more than 150 historical objects, more than 30 works of art, nearly 50 films and digital interactive experiences that bring history to life, framed by a gateway to the Atlantic Ocean.

African Roots/
African Routes

Explore the diverse cultures of West and West Central Africa and trace the movement of people of African descent throughout the Atlantic World.

African Roots presents the diverse empires, cultures, historic figures, knowledge systems, and technologies of West and West Central Africa—the origins of Africans forced to the Americas. It highlights the dynamic past, present, and future of these regions (and Africa more broadly), from empires and societies to colonies to modern nations. Key artifacts include an 18th century Islamic Astrolabe as well as masks, currency, and jewelry from West and West Central African ethnolinguistic groups.

African Routes: Diaspora in the Atlantic World illuminates the influences and movements of people of African descent over time. Layered against a collage of imagery illustrating the vastness and diversity of the African diaspora in the Atlantic World, stories are organized through a dynamic media program by themes of intellectual connections, spirituality, and cultural expressions.


American Journeys

Discover people, events, and stories that shaped United States history through the international lens of the African Diaspora.

The American Journeys Gallery presents key moments, figures, and movements in African American history that are interconnected with South Carolina, showing how they shaped, and were shaped, by local, national, and international cultures, politics, and economies. This gallery is organized into twelve chronological sections: Carolina in the Atlantic World; the Rise of Plantation Slavery; Revolutions; Expanding the United States; Emancipation to Reconstruction; the Return of the Old Order; Color Lines; Mobility, Migrations, and Military Service; South Carolina’s Freedom Struggle; Global Human Rights; Revolts and Transformations; and Movements. Significant artifacts in the gallery include the “Come and Join Us Brothers” lithograph, published by the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments, Cir. 1863; a uniform from Company E, 24th U.S. Infantry Buffalo Soldier regiment formed in 1869; one of two American flags flown over the United States Capitol on April 4, 2018, in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee; along with various items connected to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, both locally and nationally.


Atlantic Worlds

Explore the nuanced historical connections throughout the Black Atlantic World and the deep interconnectivity between Africa, the Americas, and Europe.

The Atlantic Worlds Gallery explores the nuanced historical connections throughout the Black Atlantic World.  Focusing on the major themes of resistance, revolution, creolization, immigration, and the Middle Passage, this gallery explores the deep interconnectivity between Africa, the Americas, and Europe. A 30-foot, ultra-high-definition video screen on the South wall of the gallery features an original short film that examines the historical connections between Charleston, Barbados, and Sierra Leone. The floor space of the gallery is filled with both historical and contemporary objects, art, and artifacts from throughout the Black Atlantic World.


Carolina Gold/
Memories of the Enslaved

Understand the transformative impact of enslaved people who labored on plantations in South Carolina and helped build the lucrative rice industry.

By examining the roots of the plantation system, the skills and knowledge of Africans from rice-growing regions of Africa, and how enslaved Africans and their descendants created community, kinship, and cultivated resistance, the Carolina Gold Exhibit demonstrates the transformative impact of enslaved people who labored on plantations in South Carolina and helped build the lucrative rice industry. A media program describes the knowledge and labor of enslaved people on the rice plantations, illustrating how enslaved West Africans brought significant knowledge and technological contributions to rice cultivation in the region, while also describing the physical and emotional toll it took on those working in tidal rice-growing regions in South Carolina.

The Memories of the Enslaved Exhibit utilizes quotes and insight of formally enslaved people to examine the brutality of chattel slavery. The lived experiences of these men and women demonstrate the importance of memory, violence, family, and culture. Featuring original artifacts including a jug made by enslaved potter Dave “The Potter” Drake and Ashley’s Sack, this exhibit illustrates how remembrance of enslavement was passed down intergenerationally within African American families. The media program in this gallery encourages visitors to form an emotional connection with formerly enslaved people by hearing their stories, their words, and their voices.


Creative Journeys

Follow a network of art throughout the building that provides alternative vantage points for understanding history and the role creative expression plays in both shaping and reflecting its arc.

The Creative Journeys Exhibit consists of artwork, poems, films, and creative materials placed throughout IAAM. These works of art on walls, pedestals, and screens exist in conversation with the historical content of each gallery and provide alternative vantage points for understanding history and the role that creative expression plays in both shaping and reflecting its arc. Existing in sections throughout each gallery, rather than in a dedicated gallery of its own, the Creative Journeys Exhibit features works that are connected visually through color branding, as well as thematically through curatorial text primarily displayed within the American Journeys Gallery.


Gullah Geechee

Define and demystify what it means to be Gullah Geechee by examining the history of the Gullah Geechee peoples and the contemporary issues facing their communities today.

With a focus on the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia, the Gullah Geechee Gallery provides an introduction to Gullah Geechee history and culture. Through the exploration of themes including activism, organization, and cultural practices and preservation, this gallery examines the history of the community as well as contemporary issues facing Gullah Geechee communities. Featuring a full-size bateau (boat), a recreated praise house, and multiple media experiences, the Gullah Geechee Gallery provides insight into the dynamic cultural identity of the Gullah Geechee people and endeavors to define and demystify what it means to be Gullah Geechee.


South Carolina Connections

Experience stories of resistance and achievement from the many locally, nationally, and internationally influential African Americans in South Carolina’s history.

The South Carolina Connections Gallery focuses on African American and African diasporic history that is within and historically interconnected to South Carolina. Featuring key artifacts and an interactive map table powered by Google, the South Carolina Connections Gallery provides insight into known and lesser-known South Carolinians, as well as relevant places and events from early colonial settlement to the present. This gallery tells stories of resistance and achievement, from the many local, national, and international influential African Americans in South Carolina’s history. Significant artifacts in this gallery include tennis rackets belonging to Althea Gibson, the first African American tennis player to compete at the U.S. National Championships, as well as a Waterford Crystal Award, commemorating her Wimbledon singles and doubles championship wins in 1957.


Theater Gallery

Take in video-based installations that use a narrative storytelling format to provide broad historical context and further orient visitors to the museum experience.

The Theater Gallery, adjacent to the Transatlantic Gallery, features films and video-based installations, which provide broad historical context and further orient the visitor to the overall museum experience through a narrative storytelling format. The original film to be featured in this gallery will be produced and co-conceived by the award-winning film collective The Ummah Chroma.


TransAtlantic

Immerse yourself in the journey of African cultural roots, from the tragedy of the middle passage to the enduring legacy of local and international diaspora scenes and traditions.

The Transatlantic Gallery provides visitors with a large-scale immersive media experience. Situated as the entry point to the east wing of IAAM, this installation features eight large video screens, which take visitors on a historical journey through hundreds of years of history, from African cultural roots to the tragedy of the Middle Passage and into local and international diaspora scenes and traditions. The four-minute media installation offers an introductory experience to the themes, emotions, and historical interpretations that visitors will encounter throughout their museum experience.


Digital
Exhibitions

With more stories than could ever fit in a single building, our digital exhibitions, powered by Google Arts & Culture, enable you to connect with IAAM far beyond our walls.

Explore

OUR BUILDING
AND GARDENS

The African Ancestors Memorial Garden sprawls beneath our building in commemoration of the sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf. It both welcomes museum visitors and exists as a spirited, reflective space that is free and open to the public.

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