Temperatures may soar outside, but you can still enjoy yourself inside at these African-American-themed museums and culture centers.
Hampton University Museum
Stroll, through Hampton University Museum. It has over 9,000 objects including African-American fine arts, traditional African, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Island, and Asian art; and objects relating to the history of the University.
Within its fine arts collection is the largest existing collection of works in any museum by the artists John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Richmond Barthe and Samella Lewis.
The Hampton University Museum is located in the newly restored Huntington Building (the former library) on the grounds of historic Hampton University campus. From Interstate 64, take exit 267/Hampton University and follow the signs to the museum. The museum is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 12 noon to 4 p.m.; closed on Sundays and major holidays. Admission is free. Call (757) 727.5308 for more information.
Norfolk State University Art Gallery
Norfolk State University offers international artwork in the Harrison B. Wilson Archives and African Art Gallery.
Norfolk State’s gallery features University artifacts from Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It features museum-quality African art pieces. It is located on the second floor of the Lyman Beecher Brooks Library. Here are its hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please phone: (757) 823-2002 or 823-2003.
Portsmouth Colored Community Library
Step back into time by strolling through the Portsmouth Colored Community Library located at 904 Elm Ave., Portsmouth
The first library was launched in the 1920s as a reading room in a church. The tiny 900-square-foot Portsmouth Community Library opened on South Street on Dec. 20, 1945. Aiming to serve people of color, it received donated books from people in the community and it also became a community resource that housed clothing drives, organized Negro History Week programs, and provided other services.
The library has moved several times but in 2007 it moved to its present location at 904 Elm St. due to the perseverance of the Portsmouth African-American Historical Society led by Mae Breckenridge Haywood. Through a partnership with the City, the building was renovated and reopened as the Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum in 2013.
To escape the summer heat, attend a writing workshop. The workshops are titled, Resistance and Resilience: A Memoir of the Jim Crow Era. The remaining summer workshops will be held July 21 and July 28. Workshops in August will be held Aug. 4, 11, 17, 25. All workshops will run from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
These workshops aim to explore a bygone era. Specifically, how did you, your relatives and friends cope with segregation’s daily pressures and challenges? The workshops will be led by Lisa Hartz, the founder and director of the Seven Cities Writers Project, who is collecting and archiving data on this unique era. Collected writings will be assembled into a volume and made available at the Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum as a resource.
The workshops are free; please register by calling the History Division office at (757) 393-8591. To phone the library, please phone (757) 393-8983.
Norfolk’s Slover Library
Walk through a human-sized game board and explore how the choices you make now could affect your future. Opportunity Inc. Career Access Network will offer a Live Action Game of Life: A Thinking Money Exhibition for tween and teens on Aug. 1 at the Slover Library from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. It is located at 235 East Plume Street, Norfolk.
Day Trip: Black History Museum of Virginia in Richmond
This museum was founded in 1981 by Carroll Anderson, Sr. In 2016, it opened at its current location, 122 W. Leigh Street, the site of the former Leigh Street Armory.
Prior to being the new home of the Museum, the Leigh Street Armory had endured a fire and decades of neglect and abandonment. A grant from Save America’s Treasures, a national historical site preservation program, agreed to fund the armory’s rehabilitation. The structure had some of its exterior brickwork redone, new floors and a roof installed and was soon up-and-running once again.
The Museum seeks to become a statewide resource on the many facets of Black history through exhibitions, discussions and celebrations.
The Museum collects documents, limited editions, prints, art and photographs for use in its Black History Archives program.
There is an entry fee. Museum Hours of Operation: Monday – Closed; Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday – By Appointment Only. For more information, call, (804) 780-9093.
Weekend Trip: Howard University Gallery of Art
If you are in Washington, D.C., stroll through the Howard University Gallery of Art.
Established in 1928, it opened in 1930 with a traveling exhibition of oil paintings, water colors, and drawings assembled and circulated by the College Art Association of America on April 7, 1930. Two years ago, it was ranked among the 50 best college museums in the nation by CollegeRank.net.
“We are very proud of this distinction and the recognition it brings to the gallery and to Howard University,” said Dr. Gwendolyn H. Everett, associate dean for the Division of Fine Arts, who serves as the Gallery’s director. “This ranking acknowledges the sustained excellence the Gallery of Art has shown over eight decades, since its founding.”
The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. It is located in Childers Hall, home of the Fine Arts Division of the College of Arts and Sciences. The main campus is easily accessible by car or subway. Phone- (202) 806-7070.
By Rosaland Tyler