Sankofa Children's Museum of African Cultures, Inc.
2442 N Charles St
Baltimore, MD 21218
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Our exhibits will change regularly. Contact our team for information about our current exhibits.
My name is Esther K.
Armstrong. I would like to tell you about a wonderful project we are currently working on, aimed at providing much-needed knowledge of Africa, through play and other interactive activities, to school
children in Baltimore and beyond. We hope, through these activities to cultivate their interest in African cultures and hopefully encourage a love of learning of other
I am a Ghanaian-born citizen of the US and a graduate of the University of Ghana at Legon. I have lived and worked in the Maryland area for over 30 years. My husband James Clemmer and I own and manage Sankofa African & World Bazaar, a specialty store and gallery of African tribal art, clothing and gift shop located at 2442 N. Charles Street in Baltimore.
Recently, specifically during the recent celebration of Black History Month, we experimented with an idea to bring Africa to groups of young people from two Baltimore City Elementary School 3rd and 4th grade classes. One of the ideas was to measure how well these youth would respond to the untold story of African civilizations and cultures before the period of slavery. We feel strongly, as the famous quote (above) by Marcus Garvey indicates, that by empowering our children with the pride and respect that comes from the knowledge of their history and connection to their roots prior to the Transatlantic Slave trade, we would be making a major contribution to their sense of identity and self-esteem, and perhaps help prevent the negative behaviors that we see exhibited on so many different levels today.
For this program, students, parent-chaperones and teachers not only heard and learned about previous and current African cultures, but interacted with different aspects of them, including dress, musical instruments, tribal art, personal artistry and story-telling. It was an overwhelming success as evidenced by the photographs and videos shown here. They begged us to present this to our children every day of the year, not just during Black History Month!
The mission of Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures, Inc. is to build and operate a world-class living and interactive children’s African museum in Baltimore for the benefit of the Baltimore communities and all visitors that embrace learning. From our research, this would be the first children’s museum dedicated to educating children about Africa, in the United States.
As a premier African Cultural children’s museum in the Mid-Atlantic region, Sankofa Children's Museum of African Cultures will seek to educate, inspire, and connect children from all walks of life to discover and experience a true African odyssey.
Our aim is to tackle this project in stages, initially offering a pilot program beginning this summer and expecting to expand it dramatically within a year or two into a full-fledged children's museum!
The facility has to be large enough to house exhibits that showcase the four (4) regions of the continent of Africa; North, South, East and West. Each section will offer hands on exhibits where children can touch, hear, see, and even taste various aspects of not only each region but also different countries and ethnic groups from the various countries. They will be able to experience, dress, music, crafts, art, food, language, dance, etc. Each regional exhibit will be elaborate in scope and will have to be large enough to have room for the children to interact with the displays. Some of the exhibits will have actual huts, boats and other objects that are unique to each country.
Because first impressions are lasting, the facility will have an elaborate and dramatic entrance that will involve dance, music and traditional dress that sets the atmosphere for the visitors to experience Africa. Akwaaba, which means welcome in Ghana, will be just what each visitor will experience. Each visitor will go through an introduction to Africa that includes receiving a small gift.
Securing a large space would also allow us to offer classes and exhibitions daily, weekly or monthly as desired. Besides using local talent, we expect to be able to invite skilled crafts people from Africa to host and teach their wonderful skills in African drumming, wood carving, pottery, basket weaving, jewelry making, Kente and other textile weaving, art, dance, and cooking.
We also expect to lease space to vendors to operate a gift shop, bookstore, African restaurant, travel agency, etc. The space will also allow us to host other events and allow the community to rent space for weddings, receptions, and other large events. SCMAC will also provide during the first phase, several jobs (such as hosts, tour guides, ticket agents, store workers, museum keepers, security guards and office personnel etc). for teens and young adults that we hope will afford them an education too. Each worker will be hand-selected and thoroughly trained in African culture and its diverse qualities.
SCMAC plans to locate and operate in the Baltimore City metropolitan area. Preliminary efforts are being made to find a temporary location where we will install a scaled down version of about thirty three percent of the proposed plans. We will secure space for a more permanent location when approximately fifty percent of our start-up funding has been raised.
Our facility will house an extensive non-circulating children's library that will offer high-quality books on Africa, African civilizations, African history, artists, dancers, musicians, and composers, and their lives and work. SMCAC will also provide a resource library for adults who are interested in furthering their knowledge of African culture. The resource library will be a collection of reference books, museum guides, prints, postcard collections, CDs, DVDs, brochures and other media that will enable the user to learn more about the culture of a particular country or ethnic group, or period in history.
SCMAC is dedicated to fostering the creative spirits of all children. To this end, we will offer an extensive outreach program called “ Here is Africa”. SCMAC will provide programming that meets the needs of schools, community groups, and private organizations. Most programs will run between one and two hours in length, and most will run during regular museum hours, but arrangements will be made to accommodate before and after hours programs. Representative programs include: basket weaving, kente weaving, cooking, drumming, wood carving, painting, and dance. In addition, SCMAC will provide programming for children with special needs that will be developed and executed by a licensed art therapist. All programing will be developed and executed by a resident specialist. SCMAC expects that “Here is Africa” will eventually be a substantial part of its regular programming.