Like many kids my boys were off from school for a few days earlier this year for President’s Day. I was determined to make the most of those days by exploring more places to visit in New Jersey. Initially, my plan was take them outdoors. We’d visit some playgrounds, maybe a zoo and then come back and share our experiences with you. Mother Nature was not up for that and rain was predicted for the forecast. That meant I had to go to plan B. I needed some indoor places that are family friendly. That’s when I looked over our free places to visit in New Jersey. I had a lightbulb moment when I discovered that the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey was located in the same building as the Noyes Museum of Art art gallery in Atlantic City.
With one visit, we could tell you about two places to visit in South Jersey. Even better, both museums offer multiple locations across Atlantic County. So the boys and I put aside two days and went about exploring both museums and all their locations. In this story, we’re introducing you the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey. You can click over to read about the Noyes Museum of Art – Explore Art with Your Kids.
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey
The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey (AAHMSNJ) was inspired by founder, Ralph E. Hunter, Sr. After retiring from a long career in retail, Ralph began collecting cultural treasures wherever he could find them. It’s been said that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Such is the story of Ralph Hunter’s electic collection of treasures. So much so that Ralph’s apartment was affectionately referred to by his friends as “The Museum.”
In 2002, the museum moved from Ralph’s apartment to an ‘official’ building when he was offered a space by the mayor of Buena Vista Township. With that he was able to show off his treasures, and share stories about the meaning behind the artifacts. Ralph’s reputation for preserving and showcasing local culture spread. The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey now has two locations in South Jersey: Atlantic City and Newtonville/Buena Vista. Ralph has become so well known to Atlantic City families that many will donate their own historical treasures to the museums. You can see much of that in the “Portraits of A People” exhibit in Atlantic City.
Watch as founder Ralph E. Hunter, Sr. talks more about the museum’s beginnings.
You can learn more about this African American Heritage Museum at their website, www.aahmsnj.org.
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey – Atlantic City location
In Atlantic City, the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey has a vast collection of paintings, ceramics and advertising and branding memorabilia that portray African Americans in both a flattering and unflattering way. It’s unsettling to read some of the signage and understand how so many of the brands we are familiar with treated the African American community and the brand spokemodels so negatively, but it’s important to see it. It opened my eyes to how prevalent discrimination and inequalities were even with how foods were marketed. For my children and I it gave us yet another way to have a conversation about being African American and how their experiences and history are similiar and yet very different from our own.
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey Exhibits in Atlantic City
Photography is generally not allowed in the African American Heritage Museum, but we were granted special permission to make this story possible.
- Stereotypes on Exhibit – From Little Black Sambo to Aunt Jemima and Beyond – We learned how the mass marketing of negative imagery depicting African Americans affected society and still does today. This African American Heritage Museum exhibit told the story of the Gold Dust Twins, Amos & Andy, Buckwheat, and Aunt Jemima and how their images were used in advertising and print media to represent black Americans. Images that influenced the perception of African Americans. For many, including our kids, it’s a lesson about a time period, they were never part of, but yet still can see the ramifications of today.
- At Home: Furniture & Fixtures of Early African American Life – From a visual standpoint, this was the exhibit that was most engaging to my boys. They saw and tried hard not to touch artificacts from washboards, to ice boxes to cast iron small appliances to foot-pedal sewing machines. My tween wanted to test out a very old-fashioned typewriter. All the items on display were donated to the museum from local African American families.
- Portrait of a People Unearthed in Atlantic City – This permanent exhibit was donated to the museum by an Atlantic City family who discovered decades-old portraits in a crawl space under the house. Now, restored by Earl K. Parker, III, the images provide a rare glimpse into an affluent African American family.
- The Northside: The Way We Were – Reflect back to the time of “Boardwalk Empire’s” Enoch “Knukky” Johnson when Atlantic City was thriving and an elite class of African Americans held high positions and attracted world-class entertainers. Learn about Northside’s First like Margaret Cresswell Hiawatha, the first black police woman in the United States, who was hired by Enoch Johnson. Make sure not to miss the original Club Harlem door and sign or photos of some of the famous celebrities that appeared on stage.
- Back from Mother Africa – The idea for this exhibit came when Museum founder, Ralph E. Hunter, Sr. returned from a trip to Africa with a collection of indigenous art and stories about the people he met and places he visited. His artwork and others have been added to this African American Heritage Museum exhibit to make it as extensive as it is. The exhibit includes colorful paintings and prints, decorated ceremonial masks, intricately carved and inlaid objects from the collections of Stanley Robinson, Elwood G. Davis, and the estate of Fred Bacon, Mr. and Mrs. Young, and African jewelry donated by Bettie J. Reina and Anita Millar. The Back from Mother Africa will be on display in Atlantic City from February 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018.
My 9 year old’s shares his review of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey Atlantic City location.
The African American Heritage Museum has all things about African American history, like how Aunt Jemima’s pancake flour was made. They even have a video about how the flour was made. Also the tools they used. The oven was a lot more complicated. The TV’s only had two knobs and the music box you had to have a disc and a know where the reader goes.
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey – Atlantic City location and parking
The Atlantic City location for the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey is, inside the Noyes Art Garage, at 2200 Fairmount Avenue in Atlantic City. Parking for the Atlantic City Noyes Museum of Art was available at The Wave parking garage located adjacent to the Noyes Art Garage. You can access the building from the garage. There was a fee for parking. We paid $8, but parking can be provided for free when you spend a designated amount at the shops.
Atlantic City African American Heritage Museum Hours
The Atlantic City African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey is open daily Wednesday through Sunday. Wednesday through Saturday they are open 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Sundays they are open 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. You can reach them at (609) 350-6662.
Atlantic City African American Heritage Museum Admission Fees
The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey in Atlantic City offers free admission. Donations are appreciated.
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey – Newtonville location
The Newtonville location for the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey is, inside the Martin Luther King Center, at 661 Jackson Road in Newtonville, New Jersey.
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey Exhibits in Newtonville
- Jet, Black, Brown, and Tan – The Legacy of John H. Johnson – This exhibit looks at the work and influence of John H. Johnson, a magazine publisher that became a social and political personality. His company, Johnson Publishing, launched Negro Digest, Ebony Magazine, Tan Confession, JET magazine, Hue, and Copper Romance and more. His leadership and work paved the way for magazines such as Black Enterprise and Essence. This exhibit features the work of his publishing empire and the legacy of that work and his leadership.
- Lawrence Fault – There are a number of visually stunning sculptures, paintings, and other artistic pieces from Lawrence Fault.
- Muhammad Ali – Sting Like a Bee – The Muhammad Ali exhibit features portraits, artwork and other Muhammad Ali-related memorobilia.
- Black Cowboys and Buffalo Soldiers – A series of artwork with informational text that explains why the story of black cowboys and soldiers has been missing from historic accounts of the West. Through signage and artwork, we begin to understand that African Americans DID play a vital role in America’s westward expansion and in the farming industry.
- Prince Exhibit – An exhibit is set up that pays homage to Prince. Display cases show album covers, photos, news clippings and more.
- Smithsonian Exhibit – The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey played a rold in the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington DC. Part of the exhibit shows Ralph Hunter’s father, Roosevelt Hunter’s truck that was on display at the Smithsonian.
My 9 year old shares what he learned in the Newtonville location of the African American Heritage Museum.
African Americans made super cool things like this picture with this symbol.
Special things were created for lots of art, houses, lamps, beaches, dros, and a frog. I don’t know what life was like back then but art was special. African Americans didn’t have good lives then. First it was slavery and then Jim Crow Laws. African Americans are super and neat. Without them a lot of art would not be here.
My 9 year old also recorded this video
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey – Newtonville location and parking
The Newtonville location of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey is located at 661 Jackson Road Newtonville. Parking for the Newtonville African American Heritage Museum was available in a lot. There was no charge for parking.
Newtonville African American Heritage Museum Hours
The Newtonville African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey is open daily Tuesday through Friday. Tuesdays through Fridays they are open 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Saturday hours are by appointment only. You can reach them at (609) 704-5495.
Newtonville African American Heritage Museum Admission Fees
The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey in Newtonville has no admission fee. Donations are appreciated.
You can learn more about the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey at their website, www.aahmsnj.org.