Traveling outside of one’s own geographical region or to another country is often one of the best ways to learn about cultures that are different from one’s own. However, spending time away from home isn’t always feasible. Personal- and work schedules, not to mention insufficient funds for traveling, are among the many factors that can prevent people from being able to explore an unfamiliar place firsthand.
This is why history museums are so important; they are often go-to institutions for residents and tourists alike when they decide to embark on a time of cultural exploration. However, visiting an ethnic museum, specifically one that focuses on ethnic art, could prove to be even more helpful to someone who aims at being culturally aware. Why? Like mainstream museums, the collections and exhibits at ethnic art museums feature interesting paintings, sculpture, artifacts or decorative arts, as well as educational programming. But, since they are specialized and exist solely to highlight the talents and narratives of a particular race or ethnic group, they often end up being the museum of choice when individuals and families are on a quest to learn about more about people who look different from them.
If being culturally aware is important to you, take a moment to browse the below list of 16 ethnic museums that are currently in operation in the United States and see if any of them are in close proximity to your home or near an upcoming vacation destination. The list includes museums that focus heavily on African or African American art; Asian and Pacific Island art; Mexican and Latin American art; and Native American art. I know there are others that could’ve been included on my list–and I’m aware that some history museums’ ethnic art collections would make them worthy of being on it–but I believe it still provides a good starting point for anyone who is looking for institutions that will help expand their family’s cultural horizons.
African and African American Art
African American Museum, 3536 Grand Ave., Dallas, TX
Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, 80 Hanson Pl., Brooklyn, NY
National Museum of African Art, 1400 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.
The Museum of African American Art, 701 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA
Asian and Pacific Island Art
Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA
Heritage Museum of Asian Art, 218 West 26th St., Chicago, IL
Crow Museum of Asian Art (at the University of Texas at Dallas), 2010 Flora St., Dallas, TX
USC Pacific Asia Museum, 46 North Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, CA
Native American Art
Eiteljorg Museum, 500 Washington St., Indianapolis, IN
Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ
IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, 108 Cathedral Place, Sante Fe, NM
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, 710 Camino Lejo, Sante Fe, NM
Mexican and Latin American Art
The Hispanic Museum & Library, 613 West 155th St., New York, NY
National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, 3015 West Division St., Chicago, IL
National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 West 19th St., Chicago, IL
Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, CA