Your First Look At The International African American Museum


Modular building rests upon concrete columns underneath; wood-framed floor-to-ceiling windows create back façade; greenery flanks each side

Opening in 2023, Charleston’s long-awaited International African American Museum will offer nine galleries: showcasing permanent and temporary exhibitions spanning archaeological, genealogical, cultural and fine art subjects.

Situated on the sacred ground of Gadsden’s Wharf—the disembarkment point for the enslaved through which an estimated 80 percent of Black Americans can trace their ancestry—the modular structure was authored by late architect Henry N. Cobb to exist on this hallowed site without occupying it.

Beneath is the free-to-the-public African Ancestors Garden plush with native plants, diverse gathering spaces and provoking installations by revered landscape designer and artist Walter J. Hood.

“There’s a spiritual richness in the South,” Hood says. “This site is where people can find their ancestors, but it’s also a place of celebration. Our heritage has allowed us to perceive pain in joy, but also joy in pain.”

Originally set to open January 21, the museum is now expected to welcome visitors within the next several months.

International African American Museum exterior charleston

International African American Museum exterior with palm trees