While February is Black History Month, it’s not the only time of year you can learn about the innovations, sacrifices and accomplishments of African Americans. In fact, there’s a place right in Detroit that celebrates all year long – the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Whether you live in the Detroit area or are visiting from out of town, the Charles H. Wright Museum is the best place to learn about the African-American experience throughout history and current events that are of social relevance. Every year, thousands of visitors enjoy exhibits, concerts, films, lectures, fitness classes and more.
The museum is celebrating its 50th year and putting on plenty of special events. Here are just a few:
- The museum is sponsoring “Oh, Freedom!” starring Grammy Award-winner Patti Austin. The show takes place March 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Detroit Opera House. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000 or at the Detroit Opera House box office.
- The 33rd annual African World Festival is three days of free fun for the whole family, taking place August 14–16 at the museum. Check out hundreds of vendors, ethnic foods, African drumming and dance performances, poetry, arts and crafts and more.
- On September 25, the traveling tour, “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair,” hits Detroit from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the museum. See innovation through the fashion designs of Yves St. Laurent, Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta and many others.
- The Wright Gala’s 50th Anniversary Celebration takes place October 10 at the Detroit Marriott at the RenaissanceCenter, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The event will include a pre-reception, seated dinner and after-party.
- The Wright Museum wants locals and visitors alike to take an active role in maintaining their health. That’s why they offer Hustle for History dance lessons every Sunday night from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The hustle routines are designed to get all ages moving. It’s free for members and $7 for non-members. If you purchase five lessons, you’ll even receive a complimentary museum membership!
For more information on any of these events, call (313) 494-5800.
Exhibits and Museum Highlights
The Wright Museum houses more than 35,000 artifacts and archives. Some notable exhibits include the Blanche Coggin Underground Railroad Collection, and the Sheffield Collection, which documents Detroit’s labor movement. But the core feature is the 22,000-square-foot interactive exhibit titled, “And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture,” which takes visitors on a visually compelling journey of struggle and success. It truly is a must-see! For more information, check out the current roster of exhibits and explore all that the museum has to offer.
While the exhibits are amazing and educational, the architecture and symbolism throughout the museum are also something to behold. The Ford Freedom Rotunda features a glass dome that’s larger than the State Capitol. At ground level is the “Ring of Genealogy,” a 37-foot terrazzo tile creation featuring bronze nameplates of prominent African Americans in history. Ninety-two flags surrounding the rotunda represent the origins of African descendants.
Additional amenities include the General Motors Theater, featuring 317 seats for live performances, film screenings and lectures; The Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center; and the museum gift shop, which sells authentic African and African-American art, books and souvenirs.
If you’ve never visited, or if it’s been awhile, you owe it to yourself to explore the world’s largest institute dedicated to African-American history and culture.
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is located at 315 East Warren Avenue. Admission is $8 for those ages 13–61, and $5 for kids 3–12 and adults over 62. Members and children under 3 are admitted free. Secure parking is available behind the museum at the Cultural Center parking lot ($5 before 4:00 p.m. and $3 after).
Have you been to the Wright Museum? What was your favorite part of the experience? Share your tips with fellow Opportunity Detroit readers.