National Geographic UK names Mobile’s Africatown Museum #1 new museum in the US

Africatown Heritage Museum
The long awaited project began in early 2020. (History Museum of Mobile on Facebook)

In a recent publication, National Geographic UK listed six of the best new museums in the US for 2023. Their #1 pick was Mobile’s upcoming Africatown Heritage House, which is expected to open this July.

Keep reading for all the historical background & what to expect from the museum.

History of the Clotilda + Africatown

Africatown Mobile
Welcome to Africatown in Mobile, AL. (Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation on Facebook)

In 2018, archaeologists discovered remains of a ship at the bottom of the Mobile River. The ship’s remains, which were studied for years by scholars in hopes to uncover the stories it might tell, were eventually identified as parts of a ship called the Clotilda.

In 1860—over half a decade after the slave trade was federally abolished—the Clotilda sailed into in Mobile carrying 110 enslaved West Africans. After the human cargo was unloaded, the ship was burned and scuttled in Mobile Bay to destroy the evidence.

Many of the 110 survivors later founded Africatown, a small Mobile neighborhood north of the city. The exhibition will feature recovered parts of the ship and tell the stories of the enslaved men, women and children who inhabited Africatown.

Focused on the people

Breaking Ground On Heritage House Mayor Stimson
Mayor Stimpson, Mobile County Commission, Mobile History Museum and Clotilda Descendants Association break ground on the site in early 2021. (@mayorstimpson on Instagram)

Built by the Mobile County Commission, the Africatown Heritage House is a collaborative project with the Alabama Historical Commission, the History Museum of Mobile and other local organizations.

Meg Fowler, director of the History Museum of Mobile told Forbes:

“[The museum] will be especially focused on the people— their individuality, their perseverance and the extraordinary community they established. It will introduce the world to 110 remarkable men, women and children, from their beginnings in West Africa, to their enslavement, to their building the community of Africatown. Their stories will be shared through a combination of interpretive text panels, documents and artifacts, including some pieces of the sunken ship scientifically verified to be the Clotilda.”

Opening date + more

Heritage House
Coming soon July 2023. (History Museum of Mobile on Facebook)

Africatown Heritage House is set to open July 8, a date known as “The Landing” by descendants of the Clotilda‘s survivors who arrived in America against their will on that date in 1860.

The exhibition will be open for visitors Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-5PM. Tickets will become available online in early summer. It will have limited capacity, so tickets should be purchased in advance.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit www.clotilda.com

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Grace Howard
Grace Howard
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