The Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland is devoted to preserving African American heritage through exhibits that show black ancestry from the 1633 to the present. The museum was first housed in a Methodist Episcopal Church, however a community effort moved in collection into the Banneker-Douglass Museum in 1984. The old church was transformed into an institution filled with collections of artifacts, photographs, medical instruments, journals, and art centered on the history of African Americans within the exhibits. Now the museum works together with the community to provide tours, public programs, and education.
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The institution is named after Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass who were important to changing the rights and freedom of African Americans. Benjamin Banneker grew up to become the first African American man of mathematics and science and was a strong opponent against slavery. Frederick Augusts Washington Bailey was the first African American to become internationally prominent because of his work as a social crusader. Not only did he support the anti-slavery movement but also he supported women’s rights. After escaping from slavery he dedicated his life to advocating for freedom of slaves until the 13th amendment was passed 1865. Due to the zealous nature that both of these men possessed to changing the lives of African American’s in the United States, the museum was named after them.
At the museum there are a variety of exhibits that teach visitors about the heritage of African American’s in Maryland. With a variety of educational displays and an assortment of permanent and temporary exhibits, visitors can learn new things each time they visit. Some of the exhibits that have been housed at the museum are Deep Roots, Rising Waters: A Celebration of African Americans in Maryland, Ruth Starr Rose: African American Maritime Life on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, Seeking Liberty: Annapolis, An Imagined Community, Cisco Davis: Selected Works on the American Experience, and Portraits of Courage. Seeking Liberty: Annapolis, An Imagined Community, Cisco Davis: Selected Works on the American Experience, and Portraits of Courage permanent exhibit called Deep Roots, Rising Waters: A Celebration of African Americans in Maryland, is a historical display dating back to 1633. Beginning with the first African American settler, Mathias De Sousa, and continuing through time to learn about Frederick Douglass’s speeches that are against slavery and racism, to how Thurgood Marshall challenged the educational system in the United States.
Currently the temporary exhibit is the Ruth Starr Rose: African American Maritime Life on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. This gallery is filled with works of art by artist Ruth Starr Rose, who uses a collection of paintings, drawings, lithographs, and fresco to depict the stories of African Americans in the 80’s and 90’s. She focuses on including their occupations in the artwork of sail making, decoy carving, crab picking, and other waterman jobs.
Some of the past exhibits include Seeking Liberty: Annapolis, An Imagined Community, Cisco Davis: Selected Works on the American Experience, and Portraits of Courage. In Seeking Liberty, celebrates the story of democracy in Annapolis. The exhibits commemorated the anniversary for the quest of liberty, which began in 1708. Annapolis was home to political and religious dissidents, and many free African Americans who fought for the freedom of those enslaved before Emancipation. Through the work of archaeologists, over forty sites have been dug throughout in Annapolis over twenty-six years. The artifacts found in these sites were on display for the first time in the Seeking Liberty exhibit. The Cisco Davis: Selected Works on the American Experience gallery was focused on the work of artists Cisco Davis. For Baltimore he uses classical styles of art from artists like Rembrandt to educate the public on the African American history through a series of 20 works of art. In Portraits of Courage, African American’s who have achieved success in the fields of law, science, politics, publishing, and civil rights activism in the state of Maryland are celebrated. Some of the portraits displayed include Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, John H. Murphy and Lillie Carroll Jackson.
The museum has a variety of events throughout the year that the institution is involved in. In the world of academia, the museum is a part of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture Meeting in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum and the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture Meeting at the Morgan State University. The Banneker-Douglass Museum is dedicated to preserving and educating visitors on Afro-American History and Culture through the museum and events.
84 I St, Franklin, MD 21401, Phone: 410-216-6180