The American museum, formerly known as the International Afro-American Museum was founded in 1965, holds the world’s largest permanent exhibit on African American culture- which is the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
The museum, which is located in Detroit’s cultural center main area, was moved to its present location in 1997 into a 120,000 square foot facility right on Warren Avenue. The museum has stood the test of time and stayed true to their mission- which is serving as both a museum of artifacts but also a place of cultural retention and growth.
The museum may have never opened in 1965, if it wasn’t for Dr. Charles Wright. In fact, Dr. Wright was a Detroit obstetrician and gynecologist, but felt inspired to accomplish more which brought forth his vision to put a museum in the city of Detroit to showcase Black history. Wright’s vision for people from all over to enjoy a museum that showcases Black history would later be recognized as America’s largest collection for African American culture and history- and to date Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is still recognized as having the largest African American exhibit in the world.
Dr. Charles Wright traveled to Denmark to pay homage to World War II service members at a memorial to Danish World War II heroes. It was after this moment when Wright wanted to honor and to pay homage to African Americans and the African American experience, which brought him to the idea of bringing Black culture to the world. He knew from that moment that he wanted to honor Black Americans by preserving their history, life, and culture.
As the recognized institution of being the world’s largest museum dedicated to the African American experience, it holds more than 30,000 artifacts and archival materials, along with Detroit’s labor movement documents. The renowned Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History also reaches out to the community by ways of educational websites, membership retention, group tours, liberation film series, voices of the Civil War film series, the struggle against slavery program where materials for researching, teaching, and an exploration of the Underground Railroad along with the anti-slavery history are all accessible for learning.
In addition to hosting the largest permanent African American collection in the world, Detroit’s museum presents the annual African World Festival and Wright Gala, and with award-winning shows continuously coming to the museum it’s no wonder year after year the museum is included in the top 5 American museums.
An area of Detroit, known to be the University Cultural Center district, is host to the former International Afro-American Museum, now the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and ground was broken on May 21, 1985.
Once again the museum outgrew its facility, so in 1992 with the help of Detroit voters the City of Detroit was authorized to sell construction bonds to finance a larger facility, and ground was broken for the third time in 1993.
Something else happened in April of 1997; this was the year when the Detroit institution became the world’s largest African American historical museum, and at the state-of-the-art-facility it holds the largest collection of African American history and culture but also features a series of exhibits, lectures, concerts, cultural celebrations, festivals, and programs designed just for children that adults can also enjoy.
Just one year later, the museum was renamed as Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in honor of its founder; and in 2005 became host to a Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks as she lied in repose in the Detroit museum’s rotunda- and from October 31 to November 2, a 700,000 paid their respects to her at the museum.