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Travel Back In Time: The Museum of African-American History

Travel Back in Time with the Wednesday Patch Passport, to discover the history and roots of Beacon Hill.

The first public school for African Americans; the oldest remaining black church in the United States; the original location of the New England Anti-Slavery Society; and a former recruitment center for the 54th Regiment, one of the first units open to black men during the Civil War. 

All these places can be found within two buildings on Beacon Hill.

Built in 1834, Boston's Museum of African American history, at 46 Joy St., was the first building in the United States constructed for the explicit purpose of educating young African Americans. Renovated in 2000, the building houses a number of historical exhibits, including:

  • Neoclassical busts by Mary Edmonia Lewis, a black sculptor and abolitionist whose work depicted African, African-American and Native-Americans.  
  • Photographs taken by Hamilton Smith, one of the first African American graduates of the Boston School of Law, in 1879; and
  • The paintings of Allan Crite, a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, who died in 2007.

Perhaps the most valuable resource in the museum is the staff. When you go, be sure to ask about the nearby African Meeting House, the original location of the First African Baptist Church and the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Currently undergoing renovations, the Meeting House will open in December. 

The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is $5, with discounts for visitors under 18 and senior citizens.



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