Wisconsin Black Historical Museum

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum, located at 2620 West Center Street, is dedicated to preserving the heritage of Milwaukee’s African-American community. Founded in 1987, both the museum and its associated organization—the Wisconsin Black Historical Society—were formed by Clayborn Benson, III. Benson, an experienced video and photo-journalist, created the museum to gather together a neglected portion of the state’s source materials on African-American life. [1]

The museum has several notable permanent exhibits. One of them is a mural depicting the course of black history from ancient Egypt to modern Milwaukee, painted by George Gist. Another is the 2005 NAACP Civil Rights Tribute Bus, which is a replica of the vinyl decals used on the bus that featured local and national civil rights leaders.[2] The museum also features rotating exhibits, such as “Work’n in the Promised Land: The African American Labor Experience in Wisconsin.” This display examines the many forms that the work of African-Americans has taken and how restrictions on how African-Americans could participate in the workforce forced them into working in certain economic sectors.[3]

The museum plays a strong role in the wider community as well. It provides an area for receptions, organizational meetings, and other private events. Many Milwaukee Public Schools and schools in the city’s suburbs include guided tours of the museum in their history curricula. In this way, the museum strives not only to preserve the past, but also to inspire future generations to take an active interest in African-American history as well.

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Bobby Tanzilo, “Museum Spotlights African-American History, Culture,” OnMilwaukee.com, February 17, 2005, last accessed August 3, 2017.
  2. ^ Alison Rose Jefferson, “Review: Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum and Milwaukee’s Bronzeville Cultural Entertainment District,” Public Historian 34, no. 4 (2012): 95.
  3. ^ Jay Joslyn, “Exhibit Set on Black Workers: Museum to Renovate Old Savoy Theater,” The Milwaukee Sentinel, August 19, 1991.

For Further Reading

Joslyn, Jay. “Exhibit Set on Black Workers: Museum to Renovate Old Savoy Theater,” The Milwaukee Sentinel, August 19, 1991.

Tanzilo, Bobby. “Museum Spotlights African-American History, Culture.” OnMilwaukee.com. February 17, 2005. Last accessed August 3, 2017.


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