This article offers an overview of the field of African American museums, describing the growth and variety of museums created, basic operational characteristics, their service to their communities, and perceived challenges in the present and future. The data were obtained through two national surveys, each of which had a focused purpose to serve the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), and were funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Data from those surveys describe the outlines of the field of African American museums, many of which are small and undercapitalized, but driven by vital missions and a passionate commitment to their communities.

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