The Hampton University Museum is located in the recently renovated Huntington Building on the Hampton University Campus. Visitors to the museum will be able to peruse the museum’s collections which showcase over 9,000 artifacts, including traditional African, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Island, and Asian art along with other artifacts that pertain to University’s history.

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The Hampton University Museum was established in 1868 and is the oldest African American museum in the country and one of the oldest in the state. Its mission is to provide knowledge, understanding, tolerance and respect for other cultures and traditions.

The 1870s the saw the founding of an African studies program completes with African artifacts from a variety of cultures. In 1878, Hampton initiated a program in Native American education. Over 1300 American Indians attended the school set up by the museum between 1878 and 1923.

The museum founded the first African American art collection in the world in 1894 with the procurement of two paintings by Henry O. Tanner. The African American collection grew in 1967 when the museum was gifted with hundreds of artworks from the Harmon Foundation.

The Asian and Pacific Island collections were established in artworks from Japan and the Philippines. The collection of Japanese artwork was obtained from Alice Baron’s estate in 1918. She was a teacher that went to Japan in 1888 to teach the women of the Imperial Court. The collection from the Philippines was procured in 1914.

Collections and Exhibitions

The Hampton University museum’s collection include works from traditional African, Native American, Asian, and Pacific Island cultures. It is also the home of the world’s first African American art collection which contains over 1,500 pieces. The Asian and Pacific Island contain artifacts and artworks representing Japan and both northern and southern regions of the Philippines.

The newest assemblage of artifacts at the museum is the history collection. Made up of almost 700 objects, the exhibition of artifacts represents Hampton’s mission to teach students.

Soul and Spirit: Two Hundred Years of Art from Hampton University Museum- Visitors to this exhibit get to tour four galleries of the museum that recount the history of African American art. The collection showcases work from the earliest African American painters to more modern works by artists such as Jacob Lawrence, and Elizabeth Catlett.

Enduring Legacy: Native People, Native Arts at Hampton- Visitors to this exhibit get to explore the cultures and lives of Native Americans of the area through the historic American Indian art and artifacts of this collection.

The Art of Africa: Power, Beauty, Community- Visitors to this exhibit get to explore African American beginnings with over 200 artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa. Objects from the historic African American collections as well as pieces procured by the Museum since the 1960s are on display here. As a relatively new exhibit, almost half of the artifacts are on display for the first time in Hampton.

University Archives- The archives of the Hampton University Museum are on of the country’s biggest and most complete collection of resources on the history and culture of African American and Native Americans. It consists of more than eight million documentary materials and more than fifty thousand photographs and glass negatives that tell the story of Hampton’s part in American education, the philosophy of education, political events, labor issues, and business and global relations. The archives also comprise around two million items and nineteen thousand photos concerning the American Indian Education Program including historic images of the western reservations that can be found no where else in the world.

Educational Opportunities

The Hampton University Museum has its own Department of Education that offers guided tours in collaboration with the SOL’s. Several programs for students in all age groups are available. These programs offer an introduction to the museum’s art and artifact collections in the appropriate historical and cultural context and explore he association between form and meanings. High school programs are geared towards comprehensive explorations of the various collections within the Hampton University Museum.

The Curiosity Room is geared towards children pre-K through first grade and is located on the second floor of the museum. The room is open only at certain times through-out the year. Visitors should call ahead to see when the next opening is. The Curiosity Room is also available by reservation. Children learn appreciation for the various types and ways of art through exploration of the room. Guided tours of the Curiosity room are created based on age group.

Special Events

Annual Holiday and Kwanza Marketplace- Visitors to the Hampton Museum in December can purchase gifts from the gift shop in the museum which focuseson African, African American, and other gift items.

Hampton University, Hampton, VA 23668, Phone: 757-727-5000

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