The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century.



2004 Exhibits

February 1-May 1
If These Dolls Could Talk:
150 Years of Black Dolls

Image: dollThe exhibit showcases a stunning collection of 19th and 20th century black dolls from the Museum of African American History and the Philadelphia Doll Museum. The unique combination of dolls includes imported and commercially manufactured dolls, tenderly hand-crafted American folk dolls made from scraps of cloth and household materials, soft sculptured dolls, plastic dolls, porcelain dolls, Kewpies dolls, and one-of-a-kind creations. The largest piece in the exhibit is the life-size soft sculpture "Many Voices," a creative representation of a 19th-century African American woman by artist Barbara Ward-Armstrong.

June 6-October 23, 2004
Portraits in Black: Gaining Ground,
Holding Office
The Museum of African American History and Bachrach Photographers present a groundbreaking new exhibit: Portraits in Black: Gaining Ground, Holding Office. Come see new portraits by Bachrach, America's leading portrait studio known for "130 years of famous faces" including every U.S. President beginning with Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address.

The exhibit pays tribute to living elected black officials of New England and includes portraits of Edward Brooke, the first African American US Senator elected post reconstruction; Kenneth Reeves, the first elected African American Mayor in Massachusetts (Cambridge, MA) and current City Councilor; Bill Owens, the first African American State Senator in Massachusetts; Carrie Saxon Perry, the first African American woman elected mayor of a major city (Hartford, Conn.) and many more.

The exhibition will be on display at the Museum from June 6 to October 23. Throughout the week of July 26, the Museum will present daily gallery talks at 11 a.m. presented by a number of the legislators and officers whose portraits will be on exhibit. Speakers will discuss their experiences, including what it takes to get elected in New England today.

Confirmed legislators include:

  • The first African American US Senator elected post reconstruction, Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts
  • Former Mayor of Cambridge and current City Councilor Kenneth Reeves
  • The first African American woman elected mayor of a major city Carrie Saxon Perry (Hartford, Conn.)
  • First African American Massachusetts State Sen. Bill Owens
  • Massachusetts State Sen. Diane Wilkerson
  • Massachusetts State Rep. Shirley Owens-Hicks
  • Massachusetts State Rep. Marie St. Fleur
  • Massachusetts State Rep. Gloria Fox
  • Massachusetts State Rep. Byron Rushing
  • Massachusetts State Rep. Benjamin Swan
  • Former Massachusetts State Rep. and current Chief of. Housing and Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development for the City of Boston, Charlotte Golar Richie
  • Former Massachusetts State Rep.Rev. Dr. Michael Haynes
  • Former Massachusetts State Rep. Augie Grace
  • Former Massachusetts State Rep. Royall Bolling, Jr.
  • Former Massachusetts State Rep. Doris Bunte.
  • Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier
  • Former Connecticut State Sen. Sanford Cloud
  • Former Connecticut State Treasurer Francisco Borges
  • Rhode Island State Rep. Gordon Fox
  • New Hampshire State Rep. Claire D. Clarke
  • New Hampshire State Rep. Rogers J. Johnson
  • New Hampshire State Rep. Carlos E. Gonzalez



November 1-December 31

Visual Stories:
The Artwork of James Ransome

Image: James Ransome Artwork

The extraordinary paintings by James E. Ransome in this traveling exhibit portray important moments in the history of black life and culture in the America.

These works represent a decade in Ransome’s remarkable career as artist-illustrator and form a masterful body of visual stories in a unique union of imagination and style. The works reveal his interpretation of major children’s authors by featuring ordinary people within their everyday landscape—from slavery through the Jim Crow era. James Ransome has exhibited works in group and solo art shows across the country and has twice received the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration.

Joyce Bickerstaff, Ph.D.,Associate Professor of Education and Africana Studies at Vassar College noted in 2003 that:

“Ransome’s ‘visual stories’ capture the soul, the deep spiritual and emotional roots of black culture and heritage in the American South. His painting make it easy to feel, to imagine, and to be embraced by an earlier, albeit, imperfect, America: slavery and the plantation in “Running to Freedom;” the sharecropper’s farm in “Clara and John;” a baseball mound of the Negro National League in “Satchel;” or the shouts of the street vendor pulsating through the New Orleans French Quarter in “Banana Man II.”

Whether Ransome’s subject is a segregated hospital of the 1930s (“Colored Waiting Room”) or a Texas fishing village (“Bimmi Eating Breakfast”), his art-narratives offer reassuring truths about the power of love in home and family, with kin and community. The dignity of labor in "Chopping Wood” and the affirmation of black manhood and womanhood in “Mother and Father” bring visual power to these stories of a courageous and resilient people.”

Nov. 10, 2003 - May 1
Selections from the Collection
What's In Your Attic?

Does your attic hold historic treasures? As one local woman discovered, preserving a family legacy can be the beginning of a fascinating journey.

Come see the newest addition to the Museum's permanent collection, the Sullivan Family Collection. Four generations of photographs, letters and artifacts boast numerous stories waiting to be told.

Did the ornate conductor’s baton belong to the founder of the Boston Victorian Orchestra? Who was the actress that went to Russia? How did Theodore earn that Purple Heart in WWI? Were the Nova Scotia ancestors Black Loyalists during the Revolutionary War?

Join us as we open the attic and embark on a quest for answers.