I firmly believe that the point of visiting a museum is to educate one on how things once were in the past through its display of artifacts, exhibits, art, cultural objects, etc. Its purpose is to let you imagine what it was like during a time you were not apart of or, in some cases, allow you to look back at a time you were apart of when you were very young. The African-American Museum of Long Island did a great job at presenting some of the many African-American contributions to society. In addition to presenting contributions from the African-American community, the museum was able to show us some of the struggle they were required to overcome as well.
My favorite possession of the museum was Scott Joplin’s piano. Scott Joplin was dubbed the “King of Ragtime” during his musical career. I felt that it was so cool they somehow were able to get their hands on that piano. When I asked my tour-guide the value of the piano she told me that it was invaluable and that nobody can put a number on it. The only way to determine its value is to put it through an auction and see how much collectors are willing to pay for it. I think the reason for that is because its such an important part of African-American history. How could you put a value on that? I feel it would be impossible to. Another part of the museum I really enjoyed was the mural that an African-American carved out of a tree. The mural was his interpretation of the history of African-Americans. In the beginning it showed how they were all peaceful in Africa and their lives before they ended up being taken into slavery. In the next section of the mural it showed how they were forced into slavery, it even showed other African-Americans taking part of the slave trade which is something I, and probably a lot of individuals, never knew.
The last part of the mural showed African-Americans in a pretty successful state in nice, fancy suits around family members overlooking the past. I interpreted the last part of the mural as African-American life finally starting to get better with them remembering the past and admiring their ancestors for their struggles to get them where they are. I could not believe how detailed a person could make a mural like that out of a tree. It was truly amazing. I can not imagine the time and dedication that person put into it. I am sure they are proud of where it is being displayed.
The main exhibit was filled with many beautiful paintings by Ernani Silva. These paintings were meant to portray African-American life in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. These paintings were unlike any other paintings I have seen. They sort of came off the display to the point where I wanted to touch them so badly because it was really cool. However, I thought it was best if I did not touch anything in there. My favorite painting in this room was the painting of the Jazz band playing music in the streets with a crowd around them. This painting revealed some of the Brazilian culture and how they were forced to practice it on the streets because they were people trying to suppress their beautiful culture. In the room next door, they had a nice exhibit of Rosa Parks that showed the role she played in the Civil Rights Movement with what she went through when she infamously would not give up her seat in the “white section” of the bus. It also showed how it ended up leading to the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott. I thought the coolest part of this exhibit was the fact that it had the only known picture of Rosa Parks with her husband together. Not that it has any historical value, but I thought they were a great couple and that they looked very happy together. Another interesting was the painting called “The Door of No Return”.
This was a painting of an open door from a slave ship when they arrived in America. The door led to the fate of the African-Americans which was the harsh conditions and treatment they were about to endure on the cotton plantations. In addition, there was another painting right next to “The Door of No Return” that showed how the African-American slaves were packed into the slave ships. They literally would have had more room in a coffin than they did on the slave ships. This was the reason why so many African-Americans died on the ships because of disease.
I really felt that I learned a lot at my trip to the African-American museum. I enjoyed my time there a lot because my tour-guide was extremely informational and my brother and I were able to interact freely with her. I was able to see some artwork and other cultural displays that I thoroughly enjoyed. The people who worked there were very friendly and spoke to us about our African-American classes we are currently taking. I am happy I had the opportunity to visit this museum.