Looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month in NYC? We compiled the following list of NYC museums, cultural institutions, monuments and more that celebrate and honor the history, culture and talents of Black Americans. Covid-19 safety measures have temporarily closed some of these destinations, but even those are offering online programming that will help you explore the collections. Others are outside, and even free to visit and appreciate. Read on for ideas on places in NYC to see with kids during Black History Month—or any month!
Founded in 1914, the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem has been a major cultural force and venue for American music and artists, showcasing genres such as jazz, R & B, gospel, soul and hip-hop. Its world-famous amateur night began in 1934, with many future legends taking the stage early in their career. Other giants of music and entertainment who have performed here include Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holiday.
253 W. 125th St.
Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling
Located in the neighborhood that served as the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling works to provide children with the opportunity to see and talk about art, as well as make art from their own stories. The museum seeks to support kids challenged by poverty by fostering creative and cognitive skills that prepare children for social and academic success.
898 St. Nicholas Ave.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is dedicated to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. The research library also hosts public programs and exhibitions, as well as events such as the popular Black Comic Book Festival. Check out the Center’s Black Liberation List for Young Readers.
515 Malcolm X Blvd. (135th St and Malcolm X Blvd.)
Studio Museum Harlem
Founded in 1968, The Studio Museum Harlem is the nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally, and internationally and for work that has been inspired and influenced by Black culture. While it is currently closed, you can see more about its educational and community engagement programs here.
429 W. 127th St.
The Shabazz Center
The Shabazz Center facilitates thought exchange around racial equity, justice, and cultural production in the spirit of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, his wife. The building was previously known as the Audubon Ballroom, and is where Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. (The current center opened in 2005 after significant renovation and restoration.)
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Founded by trailblazer Alvin Ailey in 1958 with the goal of celebrating black culture through dance, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues that tradition today. In addition to performances by its repertory companies, the theater offers workshops and classes for kids as young as two years old.
405 W. 55th St.
African Burial Ground
The largest and earliest African burial ground in the United States and a National Historic Landmark, the African Burial Ground dates from the middle 1630s to 1795. Discovered in 1991 during the construction of a building at 290 Broadway, it was determined to contain, over six acres, the intact skeletal remains of as many as 15,000 enslaved and free Africans. The site is now home to a public monument, where remains of more than 419 Africans are interred; an interpretive center, and research library to honor and commemorate the lives of enslaved and free Africans in colonial New York.
26 Wall St.
Before the land became part of Central Park, the area between W. 82nd and W. 89th Streets was home to Seneca Village, a predominantly Black Community. Built on what was previously farmland, Seneca Village existed from 1825 to 1857 and was exceptional in that about half of its Black residents owned their homes, which also provided a pathway to voting rights. You can take a virtual tour of Seneca Village here.
Between W. 82nd & W. 89th Streets
Upper West Side
A Great Day in Harlem Stoop
On August 12, 1958, 57 jazz musicians gathered at 10 a.m. on a stoop in Harlem for what would be one of the most iconic images in music history. Among the giants of the form were Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Farmer, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young and Mary Lou Williams.
17 E. 126th St.
Frederick Douglass Statues
You can find two statues of the famous abolitionist, writer, orator and publisher in New York City. One, at the entrance to the New York Historical Society (you’ll find Abraham Lincoln at the other entrance) and a second near the northwest corner of Central Park. Find the eight-foot Gabriel Koren piece at Frederick Douglass Circle at 110th Street and Eighth Avenue.
Duke Ellington Memorial
This impressive tribute to composer, jazz musician and bandleader can be found at the northeast corner of Central Park at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue. Rendered in bronze by sculptor Robert Graham, the groundbreaking talent and longtime Harlem resident stands next to a grand piano, and the monument measures 25-feet-high.
Duke Ellington Circle
110th Street & Fifth Ave.
Harriet Tubman Memorial Statue
Find this powerful bronze statue of trailblazing abolitionist Harriet Tubman at Harriet Tubman Square, located at the intersection of Frederick Douglass Boulevard, St. Nicholas Avenue and 122nd Street. Also known as "Swing Low", the sculpture is by Alison Saar. The figure of Tubman is shown pulling the roots of slavery out of the ground with faces on her dress representing the people she helped gain freedom through her work as the leader of the Underground Railroad.
Weeksville Heritage Center
Located in Central Brooklyn, Weeksville was one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America. Weeksville is home to the Hunterfly Road Houses, which were purchased by James Weeks and other investors in 1838 to create a community of Black land-owners, and you can visit them today. The Weeksville Heritage Center works to educate the public about Weeksville and similar communities, as well as serve as a center supporting Black culture, community and creativity and social justice initiatives.
158 Buffalo Ave.
Shirley Chisholm State Park
Named for Brooklyn-born Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congresswoman and the first woman and African American to run for President, this New York State Park is a waterside green space that opened in TK. Rising 130 feet above sea level, the park provides visitors with spectacular views of New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay, the Empire State Building and beyond. The park has 10 miles of bike trails and a bike loaner program, waterside access via a pier and patio, environmental education programs such as guided bird-watching and fishing.
The park has two entrances:
950 Fountain Ave.
1750 Pennsylvania Ave.
Plymouth Church & Abolitionist Place
Built in 1849 and located in Brooklyn Heights, the historic Plymouth Church was a major stop on the Underground Railroad, sometimes referred to as its "Grand Central Depot." Its first minister was abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe author of her anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Abraham Lincoln also visited and worshipped here in 1860—apparently he sat in pew 89!
75 Hicks St.
The building at 227 Duffield Street in downtown Brooklyn is also an important place in New York's anti-slavery movement. Dating to the mid-19th century, the former residence of abolitionists Thomas and Harriet Truesdell is located on what is now called "Abolitionist Place." The area was a center of anti-slavery activism, containing numerous safe houses and stops on the Underground Railroad. Just this month, it received landmark status.
227 Duffield St.
Louis Armstrong House Museum
World-renowned instrumentalist and vocalist Louis Armstrong AKA “Satchmo” settled on Corona, Queens with his wife Lucille in 1943, and never left. His home, now a National Historic Landmark, has been preserved in all its mid-century glory, and you can learn more about the man, his music and humanitarian work here.
34-56 107th St.
Sandy Ground Historical Society
Located in Staten Island, Sandy Ground is the oldest continuously inhabited free Black settlement in the United States. Established by oystermen who migrated from Maryland fleeing restrictive laws, the community also served as a crucial stop on the Underground Railroad. The Historical Society stages exhibits, events and offers tours, and contains the largest collection of documents detailing Staten Island’s African-American history and culture.
1538 Woodrow Rd.