Banneker-Douglass Museum

History Museum
Banneker-Douglass Museum photo
Craig Herndon for The Washington Post
Through 10/1

Untold Stories--Athletes of Maryland's Historically Black Colleges and Universities

An exhibition celebrating the achievements of athletes who helped shape black college athletics. Featured artifacts include a megaphone used by spirit squads in the 1950s and a commemorative medallion from the 1986 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, when Willie Lanier (Morgan State) was inducted.

Editorial Review

The former Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1874-75 by a congregation of free African Americans. It now houses the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Maryland's official repository of African American heritage. The museum also opens its doors for a variety of community events, including poetry readings, jazz concerts and book signings.

The museum is named after two of the state's most notable sons: abolitionist Frederick Douglass and mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker. Exhibitions, which generally run between six to eight months, may be historic, art-centered or both.

All exhibits highlight the contributions made by African Americans in Maryland. The state's black heritage is particularly rich: During the Civil War, one-fifth of all blacks and the largest concentration of free blacks in the United States lived there.

The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture saved the brick Victorian-Gothic church building from demolition, threatened by county officials in 1972. (It was first threatened by Mother Nature, when, in 1896, it was seriously damaged in a storm.)

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the year the congregation moved to a new facility. Only one of the original 21 stained-glass windows survived looting and vandalism after the building's abandonment. The 20 broken windows have been replaced with historic replicas.

-- Lori Robinson

For Kids:

Maryland has had a strange history with its black citizens. Called the "free state" it nevertheless was home to many Southern sympathizers during the Civil War. This Annapolis museum, housed in a former African Methodist Episcopal church, explores the lives and contributions of the state's African Americans from slavery to more modern times. Frederick Douglass, of course, was the Maryland-born former slave who settled in Washington. Benjamin Banneker was a Colonial-era engineer and surveyor (he helped Pierre L'Enfant in the design of Washington).

-- by John Kelly and Craig Stoltz