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
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
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
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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