At the heart of the African American experience in the Northwest is the story of our Journey to this region, the establishment of our vibrant community and the ways in which we have survived. To tell this ever-unfolding story, the Museum’s exhibits and programs will feature the visual arts, music, crafts, literature and history of African Americans in the Northwest. Cognizant of the Black community’s continuous evolution, NAAM will focus on African Americans whose route to the new world was through slavery as well as recent immigrants arriving from places such as Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. The Museum will not be a collecting institution at this time, but will instead rely on individual, regional and national collections in the development of its own exhibits and programs.
The Museum’s 19,000 sq ft floor plan includes three principal galleries: The Journey Gallery, the Northwest Gallery and the Multi-Purpose Gallery. Long-term exhibits in the Journey Gallery will tell the broader story of how African Americans arrived in the Northwest to build lives and communities. Walking into this space, visitors will find a flexible mix of photos, artifacts and compelling narratives that represent a sampling of the region’s ‘cultural album.’ The Northwest Gallery will house exhibits specifically geared to the rich history of African American experiences in the Northwest. Early pioneers, cultural icons, community leaders and unsung heroes will find a home, and a voice, in this gallery’s temporary exhibits. Finally, the Multi-Purpose Gallery will live up to its title by hosting a myriad of events, exhibits, performances and lectures of importance to the Museum’s mission and its surrounding community. Exhibits in this gallery will be used to support or amplify shows in the Northwest and Journey galleries. In addition to these three galleries, NAAM will also offer exhibition space for regional artists in the Museum Café and entry foyer.