A museum that can take you on a journey that is eye-opening but can also be emotionally painful is a museum worth revisiting and taking others to.
The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama is one such place. Focused on the legacy of slavery in the United States, the museum examines the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on North and Coast American communities, as well as the domestic slave trade and Reconstruction.
But before you say, “This is too hard for me,” note that everything is presented in an artistic, high-quality, and compelling manner that makes the information palatable – no matter how tragic and intense.
The museum offers a wealth of statistical and geographic information, interactive content, and engaging narratives. “Lynching, codified segregation, and the rise of excessive incarceration in the 20th century are explored in depth and brought to life through films, images, and first-person narratives,” the museum’s website states.
One of the many captivating displays is when one first enters the facility and walks through a sea of sculpted heads and busts of tormented Africans with various expressions of despair, shock, pain, exhaustion, confusion and terror.
One section of the museum examines the economy and violence of slavery, sexual assaults on black enslaved women, and another focuses on the 12-year period of Reconstruction.
There are several exhibits that use technology to create moving images of people behind bars while their voices tell of their plight from the days of slavery to the present day. A wing of the museum dedicated to mass incarceration allows visitors to pick up a phone and listen while the moving image of an incarcerated person talks about their situation.
Adding to the historical significance of Legacy’s exhibits is the museum’s new location, located on a site where enslaved black people were forced to work in bondage. The new 47,000-square-foot facility opened in September 2021 and has significantly expanded its content and exhibits. More than 200 sculptures are on display in the museum, which also features an art gallery with works by artists such as Glenn Ligon, Elizabeth Catlett, Gordon Parks, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, Nelson Makamo, Carrie Mae Weems, Whitfield Lovell, Kwame Akoto. Bamfo, Romare Bearden, John Biggers, Winfred Rembert and others.
This is only a fraction of what you will find at the Legacy Museum. With admission prices starting at $5 per person to visit the museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice less than a mile away, the goal seems to be to ensure there are no economic barriers putting someone from the hold visit.
The museum is located at 400 N. Court St. in Montgomery. The memorial commemorating black victims of lynching in the United States is located at 117 Caroline St.
The museum and memorial are open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day. Visit museumandmemorial.eji.org for ticket information and more details.
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