The mission of the African American Museum of Nassau County is to promote understanding and appreciation of African American culture, art and tradition through education, interpretation, exhibitions, collections and programs for the enrichment of the public; with an emphasis on Long Island. The museum’s vision is to continue to be an outstanding regional resource for African American historical information and preservation.
In February 1968, Professor Leroy Leonardo Ramsey set up a Black History exhibit at Nassau Community College, in celebration of Black History Month. At February’s end, the exhibit was left in place (due to popular demand) and Professor Ramsey used his personal collection of artifacts to change the exhibit from time to time. Before long, the exhibit outgrew its space and he established the Black History Exhibit Center in a store front at 106-A Main Street, in Hempstead. In 1984, Deputy County Executive Russell Service convinced Professor Ramsey to agree to the conversion of the the African American Museum of Nassau County. In that same year Nassau County purchased the building at 110 North Franklin Street. The building was renovated and the museum was moved to that location, in September, 1985.
AAMNC is one, of only two, African American museums in the northeast. (The other African American Museum is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.) A subsequent renovation of the museum’s interior was initiated by former Director/Curator, David Byer-Tyre. A work in progress, the renovation continues to create an aesthetic ambiance for a cultural, educational museum experience.
The African Atlantic Genealogical Society, Inc. (TAAGS) became affiliated with the Museum in 1998; making the African American Museum unique as the first museum to house a genealogical society that provides workshops and consultations for the community. In 2005, the museum was granted American Legacy Magazine’s “Heritage Award for Preservation of African American History and Culture”. AAM is one of ten museums to be so honored.
The museum provides programming that includes themed exhibits that focus on historical figures and events, “hidden” history and art. Special interest programs (Reading and Discussion, Screening and Discussion, Knitting and Jewelry-making) are scheduled throughout the year. Our Living History Theater Group is open to amateurs and professionals who work together, honing their skills to perform several staged readings each year. Our music preservation project includes a collection of over 500 LPs, 300 45s and 100 78s. Monthly “live” musical performances highlight Jazz on First Fridays, Blues on Second Saturdays, and R&B and Oldies on a rotating schedule. Genealogy consultations are available, Tuesday through Saturday, by appointment. As an affiliate of the Family Research Library TAAGS has access to the millions of genealogical records held by the Church of Latter-day Saints, in Utah.