The African American Museum debuted in 1974 as part of the Special Collections at the historically black Bishop College. An independent operation since 1979, the museum steadfastly preserves the artistic, cultural, and historical legacy of the African American community, particularly that of East Texas. The 38,000-square-foot ivory-stone building holds one of the United States' largest collections of African American folk art, complete with pieces from luminaries like Mose Tolliver and Sister Gertrude Morgan. Elsewhere in the museum?s quartet of permanent galleries, African masks, gold weights, and textiles share space with American fine art from the 1800s to the present, video kiosks, and vintage photographs depicting the eras of slavery, emancipation, and reconstruction.
In addition to ongoing exhibitions, the African American Museum hosts temporary exhibits focusing on everything from lesbian families in the Deep South to winners of its National Black Art Competition. The museum?s events, meanwhile, include monthly concerts, annual jazz festivals, a kids' summer camp, and an invitational for black rodeo cowboys.