Detroit has so many wonderful museums to explore and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is undoubtedly one of the best.
As one of the nation’s premier African American history museums, this one museum you’ll want to put on your bucket list the next time you visit Detroit. Its thousands of artifacts are awe-inspiring and its collection of exhibits offers a look into the long and incredible history of Black Americans.
History of the Charles H. Wright Museum
Believe it or not, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is one of the oldest independent African American museums in the world.
The museum, also known as The Wright, was founded in 1965 and has a collection of more than 30,000 African American artifacts. Among those artifacts are letters from Malcolm X and Rosa Parks.
Making a Vision Come to Life
Charles H. Wright, the museum’s namesake was a gynecologist and obstetrician, who had a dream to create an African American history museum after visiting a WWII memorial. That vision came to life in 1966 when the International Afro-American Museum opened its doors. The museum featured exhibits of art and African American inventions, as well as a traveling exhibit.
The Museum Undergoes Expansion
The City of Detroit helped the museum expand in 1978 after leasing a plot of land near several other Detroit museums. Groundbreaking began in 1985 and the doors to a new 28,000-square-foot museum opened in 1987 on Frederick Street. The site was then known as the Museum of African American History.
The Museum Expands Again
By the early 1990s, the museum was in need of expansion again and groundbreaking began for further expansion in 1993. The current museum on Warren Avenue is a 125,000-square-foot facility and rechristened as the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Today, more than half a million people visit The Wright each year.
Wright Museum FAQs
Where is the museum?
The museum is located at 315 E. Warren Ave in Detroit.
When is the museum open?
The hours for the Charles H. Wright Museum are as follows: Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday-Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday and Tuesday: Closed.
The museum is also closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
How much does admission cost?
The cost for admission into the museum is $15 for adults, aged 13-61, $12 for seniors, and $12 for kids aged 3-12.
Admission to the museum is also free for kids on Thursday with the purchase of an adult ticket.
What is the name of the exhibit at the Charles Wright African American History Museum?
The name of the museum’s main exhibit is Still We Rise.
When did the African American Museum open in Detroit?
The museum, then known as the International Afro-American History Museum opened in Detroit in 1966 on West Grand Boulevard.
Exploring The Wright’s Permanent Exhibits
The Charles Wright Museum houses many exhibits that showcase the rich history of African-American Culture and its permanent exhibits are well worth a visit. Here’s all you need to know about The Wright’s permanent exhibits:
And Still We Rise
And Still We Rise is The Wright’s central experience and a must-see if you’re planning a visit here. The exhibit spans over 22,000 square feet with nearly two dozen galleries that span across geographic boundaries and time and stands as a representation of African-American resilience.
Visitors to the exhibit begin their journey in Africa, bearing witness to the cradle of human life and the creation of vast civilizations. The journey continues across the Atlantic Ocean as visitors learn about the Middle Passage, slavery, and emancipation, which the Underground Railroad played a role in.
The lifelike exhibits and stories that make up this exhibit offer a riveting look at African American history.
Detroit and African Americans have a rich history in the performing arts and Detroit Performs! is the perfect showcase for that history.
The exhibit celebrates all the disciplines of performing arts, including vocalists, playwrights, dancers, instrumentalists, and more.
Visitors will delight in this photomontage that celebrates the diversity, hard work, and successes of so many talented performers with connections to Detroit.
Ring of Genealogy
This masterpiece, created by muralist Hubert Mussey, is a 37-foot floor installation that is encircled by hundreds and hundreds of bronze nameplates.
The Ring of Genealogy may look simple, but it’s definitely not. The bronze nameplates each have the name of a notable figure from African American history and this exhibit serves as an introduction to your museum experience; a piece that symbolizes both the triumphs and tragedies of history.
Stories in Stained Glass
The museum houses its fair share of art to celebrate African American history, but Samuel A. Hodge celebrates that history through vivid, incredible stained-glass installations.
The installations of Stories in Stained Glass are not only colorful and pleasing to look at, but they also celebrate musicians, dancers, and so many other important historical figures.
Temporary Exhibits at The Wright
Detroit Jazz: The Legacy Continues
Editor’s Note: This exhibit is on display until February 28, 2023
This exciting jazz exhibit honors and showcases Detroit artists who have made major contributions to the footprint of jazz. The exhibit is organized in five sections and captures the lives and incredible talent of Detroit’s homegrown jazz artists.
Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs From the Bank of America Collection
Editor’s Note: This exhibit is on display until February 28, 2023
Also known as just Jazz Greats, this exhibit can be seen as a companion piece to Detroit Jazz.
There’s something magical about a photo capturing a moment in time. This exhibit is made up of 31 different photos, spanning from the 1920s to the 1980s, and highlights legendary leaders and defining moments in jazz.
Visiting the Wright Gift Shop
Once you’ve spent time visiting and examining and appreciating all of the Wright Museum’s wonderful exhibits, make sure to stop into the museum gift shop.
The gift shop here holds all sorts of wonderful treasures that could make the perfect keepsakes for your trip. The shop’s offerings include everything from woven baskets to necklaces to earrings to table runners to books, and so much more.
Visiting Other Museums Around Detroit
Michigan has so many fascinating and wonderful museums worth visiting and many of them are near the Wright Museum in Detroit.
The Detroit Institute of Arts sits less than a quarter mile from The Wright is one of Michigan’s finest museums. There are more than 100 galleries and nearly 70,000 artworks to see here.
The Motown Museum is home to Hitsville USA, where visitors can learn about the history of Motown music and renowned artists like Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. This museum is about 2.5 miles away from the Wright.
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is located on Belle Isle, just over six miles from The Wright. Visitors here can marvel at dozens of Detroit artifacts and dozens of Great Lakes ship models.
The Detroit Historical Museum, just a half mile from The Wright, is a wondrous museum of artifacts. This great museum treats visitors to the rich history of Detroit from auto assembly lines to fur trading to cobblestone streets, and so much more.
Plan Your Trip to The Wright Museum Today
With its large, domed building in downtown Detroit, the Charles H. Wright African American History Museum is hard to miss. Inside that dome is a marvelous museum that’s definitely worth spending a few hours in.
Detroit has its fair share of awesome museums, but The Wright has staked its own claim in Detroit as a must-see museum. As a year-round attraction, there’s never been a better time to start planning your trip. It’s a must for history enthusiasts, but there are so many artifacts and exhibits, that any visitor will come away with a new factoid or two.
Have you had the opportunity to wander around the Wright Museum’s exhibits? Make plans to visit the museum today and let us know what stuck out to you the most.