Erika's First Visit to the African American Museum in Philadelphia

Erika’s First Visit to the African American Museum in Philadelphia

One of the many interesting museums in Philadelphia is the African American Museum. I recently visited the museum for the first time ever. It was interesting to see the different people in African American history that I never heard about before until that day. I was surprised that I gained knowledge from the visit because it was my first time there, and I wasn’t sure I was going to be interested in what they were talking about. The galleries were very interesting and entertaining. I’m sure if you took a friend you would have fun just as I did.

In gallery one there was a wall filled with people who were enslaved and had their family that ripped apart by slavery. There was a screen you could touch to hear about a particular topic based on the things on this wall. The topics were family, work, religion, culture, law, and politics. Out of these options I picked family and they told a story about a man who was going into slavery and how families were ripped apart without any hope of seeing each other again. If it were me being forced into slavery I’m not sure how far I would go for my freedom, but I know I would go the distance for my family because freedom is nothing without family. I also heard a story about a man who went by the name of Henry Box Brown. He mailed himself to Philadelphia so that he wouldn’t be enslaved. It took him 27 hours to make it to Philadelphia and he almost died from being turned over and the blood rushing to his head in the box he was in. It is amazing what people did for their freedom.

In gallery two they have very large screens with different African American historical figures. The people on the screens talk as if they were standing right there with you. When I was in this gallery I pressed a button on the side of the screen which had a question asking the women how old she was and she started talking. I giggled a little because her voice sounded weird like if she was from the south. The woman was 108, that’s pretty old. You’re allowed to take pictures in gallery one and two so don’t forget to snap some pictures with you and your friends.

Galleries 3 and 4 had a special traveling exhibit during the time I was there, The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection. I loved seeing all the beautiful dresses that the Supremes performed in. I thought it was cool to see the exhibit because it showed me a flash back in time. I didn’t know anything about the Supremes until my visit. They traveled all over the world, and they even met the Queen of England and they wore beautiful outfits to meet the Queen herself. I couldn’t take pictures in these two galleries while this exhibit was being displayed because they didn’t want me or anyone accidentally knocking something over when you stand back to try to get a good picture, Also the Supremes costumes were very delicate fabric and could be damaged by the flash on cameras. The galleries had special lights that wouldn’t harm the costumes. (If you want to take pictures in other exhibits you should ask the people at the front desk before you begin your tour to make sure it’s OK.) The Supremes exhibit will close at the end of the summer.

Coming Fall 2013, there will be a special exhibit on display called The Unflinching Eye. The title The Unflinching Eye is drawn from the themes of the works of various artists from Philadelphia’s Tiberino family, which cover murals and painting, pen and ink drawings, mosaic and more. The exhibit will be two galleries (occupying the space where Come See about Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection is currently). It will also feature the work and/or share the stories of artists who inspired and supported the family, as well as artists who were drawn into the artistic community the Tiberino family has created. This exhibit will have artwork from every in of the Tiberino family and I think it would be interesting to go see so much artwork and all different kinds. I can’t wait until it’s open. The exhibit will open in late September and will run through Spring 2014. (More details will be announced in late September.)

During this tour at the African American Museum I felt completely comfortable and welcome and I was surprised to have learned something my first time there and I thought it was interesting. If I was asked if I wanted to visit again I would say yes. It was a fun experience and I hope that you will be influenced to visit this museum. Go on the website to see what exhibits they have now and learn more about the museum at www.aampmuseum.org.

READY TO VISIT the African American Museum? Check out the AAMP profile page for the hours you can use your STAMP pass!

This post was written by Erika Velez, Summer 2013 STAMP Program Fellow and honorary Teen Council member. Erika attends Kensington Business High School.