It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning here in Seattle. I woke up, started my day and then made the time to visit the Northwest African American Museum. This place is tucked in a small and private area minutes before hitting the busy city. The building holds this museum, as well as, a school and residential units. The place is huge and has a vintage feel to it which I loved.
Upon arrival, you’ll see a big sign letting you know that you’re there. There is plenty of free parking so this should never be an issue! We (a friend and I) walked inside, got our tickets and then started our exploration.
The museum itself has three exhibits open as of now (exhibits change over time). The hallway itself already had many facts about the passage of how African Americans made it to this area and the many obstacles they have had to face while on their journey.
All of the artifacts and/or replicas that were displayed were all able to move, open or be played with. There were screens that displayed many informative speeches and important people that were vital to African American history and the African Americans that migrated here in the Pacific Northwest. I played a game on one of the screens that tested me on what I knew about the Oregon Trail. I was surprised at how many little facts I did know of or simply forgot so it was a great learning experience for the both of us!
The picture here to the left shows a TV playing about conflicts that happened at the University of Washington and Seattle Central College. Many of these riots and altercations were because African American students were being targeted and being segregated in classrooms.
The old rotary phone was there so you can pick it up and listen to the audio coming from the TV screen which was a cool and innovative way to display this piece! The drawer under the phone opens up too, like the rest in the museum, and it shows newspapers about important events that took place here in Seattle. It looks like this picture on the right.
Exiting the hallway to your right you will enter a room at the end of the hall that shows one of the galleries/exhibits. This place was more of an inspirational area, in my opinion, because of all the writings and information on the wall.
There were many things on mine work, how much they got paid, and although it was harsh working conditions, they had to do it anyway to make a living. Also, there was a wall that asked about change in life and what would you do if you could go back in time to help yourself and others.
It was a great room to go in and reflect on what possible changes the world was capable of making. It also had a video and a bench in the middle of the room broadcasting more news reports on labor work and the conditions that African Americas had to constantly overcome in order to make a life in this new but still prejudiced land for them at the time.
At the other end of the hallway and somewhat in the middle of the museum, you’ll see an art gallery that showcases many different types of artwork and different art styles that have been done by various African Americans. They have, at one point, been in the Pacific Northwest but also migrated from different places like Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia.
This area is spacious and has specific lighting that makes the artwork come to life. It was interesting to see different sections that specifically showed abstraction and more detailed art pieces. A lot of these paintings/drawings show the emotions through the art completely. Some were colorful and some were dark and this all just comes from what they have been through as they made their passage to the west side of the United States.
Also, there were many paintings of important leaders in regards to their movements. There were many pieces of Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King and I think that just gives off even more of a picture of what it felt like to be an African American having to deal with racism and segregation in this new found land. Many drew or painted what they felt, who they saw on the street, or important life events that are significant to our history that we reflect on today.
I truly believe that this place will be one of the most informative and great learning experiences anyone will have. Often times we only see facts that have been well known and this museum shows the complete details and important personal stories of African Americans and what they went through coming to the West.
The Northwest African American Museum is small but warm and comforting. There is so much reflection that was done in this place and I am grateful to have gone there because it puts many things into perspective. Aside from that, it was a fun and cool mid-day trip that I am glad I took. I learned a lot, saw so many beautiful artifacts and of course, visited the gift shop!
Hours of Operation: :
Wednesday: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Thursday: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Friday – Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Tuesday: Closed
Students & Seniors- $5
Children 5 & under- Free
NAAM members- Free
Free admission the first Thursday of every month
Learn More: https://www.naamnw.org/