The African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI), nestled along the Cedar River near downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States, has been carrying out its mission “To preserve, publicize, and educate the public on the African American heritage and culture of Iowa” since its incorporation as an organization in 1994. It has become the leading educational resource on African American history in Iowa. It has two on-site exhibits: a permanent exhibit called Endless Possibilities and the 2017 temporary exhibit – If Objects Could Talk. Additionally, the AAMI has several “traveling exhibits” available free of charge for schools, libraries, businesses, etc. In 2011, the AAMI served over 52,000 people, offering tours, educational programming for all ages, special events, a summer camp, and much more across the state of Iowa.
The African American Museum was started in 1994 by a small group from the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids to preserve the heritage of African Americans in Iowa in celebration of Black History Month. The African American Heritage Foundation, Inc. was chartered in Iowa as a non-profit organization.
Four years later, in 1998, the Foundation hired its first full-time employee, Joseph McGill, who served as the Executive Director. In 2000, a temporary museum opened in Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids, and in April 2002, construction began on a new 17,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility along the Cedar River.
The AAMI has two exhibit galleries on site. The first of these contains Endless Possibilities, which was installed in 2009. This permanent exhibit traces Iowa’s African American heritage from its origins in Western Africa through Slavery, the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement, and struggles and accomplishments today. The second exhibit is housed in the Gale Sayers Changing Exhibit Gallery, displaying at least one new temporary exhibition each year. The 2017 temporary exhibit is If Objects Could Talk, allowing visitors to view part of the Museum’s collection and see how everyday objects turn into invaluable historical records. Each object, photograph, and document has a story to tell about Iowa’s history and African Americans’ contributions to the state. A1 Bed Bug Exterminator Cedar Rapids
- Unconditional Loyalty: The Military Service of African Americans (December 18, 2010 – December 17, 2011)
- Our Sister’s Many Hats (May 14, 2010 – December 1, 2010)
- No Roads Lead to Buxton (January 17, 2009 – May 2, 2010)
- Spirits & Sequins (April 4, 2009 – Fall 2009)
- Iowa Roots, Global Impact: The Life and Legacy of George Washington Carver (September 29, 2007 – June 2008)
- Forgotten History: African Americans in Lee County, Iowa
- Unsung Heroines
- It’s More Than Just a Game: African American Sports in Iowa
Address: 55 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA
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