California African American Museum

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Coordinates: 34°00′57″N 118°17′00″W / 34.015806°N 118.283465°W / 34.015806; -118.283465

California African American Museum (CAAM)
California African American Museum
Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Established 1981
Location Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°00′57″N 118°17′00″W / 34.015806°N 118.283465°W / 34.015806; -118.283465
Type Cultural Heritage Institution
Director George O. Davis (Executive), Naima Keith (Deputy)
Curator Mar Hollingsworth (Visual Arts), Vida L. Brown (Visual Arts), Tyree Boyd-Pates (History), Chelo Montoya (Education), Sonia Brown (Education), Denise L. Mc Iver (Research Library)
Public transit access


 Expo Line  Expo Park/USC (Expo Line)

The California African American Museum (CAAM) is a museum located in Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California, United States. The Museum focuses on enrichment and education on the cultural heritage and history of African Americans with a focus on California and western United States. Admission is free to all visitors. Their mission statement is " To research, collect, preserve, and interpret for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the western United States.[1]

CAAM hosts independent and collaborative educational programs both on and off site of lectures, workshops, innovative programs, and hands-on activities that serve public and private school students, museum patrons and community visitors.


CAAM was chartered by the State of California in 1977 and first opened in 1981, in temporary quarters at the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the nearby California Science Center).[2]


The current facility was built with state and private funds of around $5 million. The museum was designed by the African–American architects Jack Haywood and Vince Proby.[3] The new museum building opened to the public during the Los Angeles Olympic Games in July 1984. A major renovation occurred between 2001 and 2003.

The museum occupies a 44,000 square feet (4,100 m2) building. It includes three exhibition galleries, a theater gallery, a 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) sculpture court, a conference center special events room, an archive and research library. Behind the scenes there are administration offices, exhibit design and artifact storage areas.

A 2011 preliminary planning by design firm Huff and Gooden Architects pegged the cost at $67.3 million for a major expansion and renovation that would nearly triple the size of the museum.[4]


CAAM exists to research, collect, preserve and interpret for public enrichment, the history, art and culture of African Americans. The museum conserves more than 6,300 objects of art, historical artifacts and memorabilia, and maintains a research library with more than 20,000 books and other reference materials available for limited public use.

The permanent collection includes paintings, photographs, sculpture and artifacts representing the diverse contributions of African Americans. The collection ranges from African art to 19th-century landscape. Along with its permanent collection, CAAM hosts specially mounted exhibitions curated out of its own collection, as well as traveling exhibitions from other museums.


Current exhibitions include:

  • No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992 (March 8 - August 27, 2017)
  • Trouble Every Day: LA 1965/1992" (March 8 - August 27, 2017)
  • Intersections: Caribbean and Brazilian Art from the Permanent Collection" (June 28 - October 8, 2017)
  • Center Stage: African American Women in Silent Race Films" (June 28 - October 15, 2017)
  • Face to Face: Los Angeles Collects Portraiture (July 12 - October 8, 2017)
  • Gary Simmons: Fade to Black" (July 12, 2017 - July, 2018)

Past exhibitions include:

  • Hank Willis Thomas: Black Righteous Space (August 5 - February 19, 2017)
  • The Ease of Fiction (October 19, 2016 - February 19, 2017)
  • Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses (October 19, 2016 - February 19, 2017)
  • Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936 (October 19, 2016 - February 26, 2017)
  • Taking Place: Selections from the Permanent Collection (October 19, 2016 - February 26, 2017)
  • Oh Snap! West Coast Hip Hop Photography (May 11 - September 18, 2016)
  • Reflections on the Self: Selections from the Permanent Collection (May 11 - September 18, 2016)
  • Rhythm of Vision: The Artistry of Overton Loyd (March 17 - September 18, 2016)
  • Evolution of the Revolution (January 18 through June 26, 2016)
  • The African American Journey West: Permanent Collection
  • CAAM Courtyard Series: Metaphors- Charles Dickson (September 24, 2015 through May 1, 2016)
  • Hard Edged: Geometrical Abstraction and Beyond (August 13, 2015 through April 24, 2016)[5]
  • The African Presence in Central America: Tony Gleaton's Photographs from CAAM's Collection (December 21, 2015 through March 20, 2016)
  • Coloring Independently: 1940's African American Film Stills from the Collection of the California African American Museum (August 27, 2015 through February 28, 2015)
  • The NOMAD at CAAM (December 1 through 5, 2015)
  • Lookin' Back in Front of Me: Selected Works of Mark Steven Greenfield, 1974-2014 (September 25, 2014 through July 5, 2015)[6]
  • Light Catchers (March 20, 2014 through June 7, 2015)[7]
  • Curvature: Lines and Shapes (July 24, 2014 through March 1, 2015)[8]
  • Black Chrome concerning the West Coast's Black motorcycling experience.[9]
  • In the Hands of African American Collectors: The Personal Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey (the Kinsey Collection)[10]
  • Intersections of South Central: People and Places in Historic and Contemporary Photographs[11]
  • Inside My Head by Graham Goddard.[12]


The Museum's Education Department offers a broad range of programming and events designed to serve the needs of the greater Los Angeles community.[13] Their focus is to provide a variety of enriching, entertaining and enlightening learning experiences, to serve as a resource for diverse communities and to broaden public awareness of the artistic, historical and cultural contributions of African Americans and how other cultures intersect with African American history, art and culture. More than 80 programs are offered annually.


The California African American Museum has a budget of about $3.5 million a year. Admission is free. The state provides $2.5 million, augmented by funds from a private nonprofit museum foundation that in recent years has generated annual contributions and other revenues of $650,000 to $1.4 million.[14] In July 2015, George Davis was named as a new executive director to mainly oversee strategic planning, budget management, and outreach development of the museum.[15] CAAM also welcomed Naima Keith, a curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, in February 2016 as its deputy director to manage exhibitions and programs.[16][17]

The California Natural Resources Agency oversees the California African American Museum and the California Science Center.

See also

External links

Further reading

  • California African-American Museum. (2004). California African American Museum: "The Brown decision: A California perspective" : a roundtable discussion. Los Angeles?: Eighth and Wall Inc.
  • Biggers, J. T., Hammons, D., Outterbridge, J., Cummings, M., Johnson-Calloway, M., California Afro-American Museum Foundation., J. Paul Getty Trust., Crystal Productions. (1991). African American art. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Trust.


  1. ^ "California African American Museum - Home Page". Retrieved 2015-04-27. 
  2. ^ "Birth of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles". California Historian. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The California African American Museum founded, Date: Fri. 1977-09-30". African American Registry. 2000. Retrieved 2014-12-14. 
  4. ^ Mike Boehm (July 18, 2014), African American Museum director Charmaine Jefferson steps down Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "'Hard Edged' art at California African American Museum widens perception of black artists' work". Retrieved 2016-02-14. 
  6. ^ Miranda, Carolina (November 19, 2014). "Q&A Artist Mark Steven Greenfield on minstrelsy and American culture". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^ "Light Catchers,"
  8. ^ "The California African American Museum presents 'Curvature: Lines and Shapes'". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Lynell George (September 28, 2008), "Bikers on a historic ride", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 2012-06-13 
  10. ^ The Kinsey Collection
  11. ^ "Intersections of South Central: People and Places in Historic and Contemporary Photographs". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  12. ^ Villarreal, Ignacio. "California African American Museum Erases Distinction Between Fine Arts and Crafts". ArtDaily. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  13. ^ "CAAM's Exhibition Visibly Invisible Focuses on the Plight of those with Albinism". Inland Valley News. September 25, 2014. 
  14. ^ Mike Boehm (July 18, 2014), African American Museum director Charmaine Jefferson steps down Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ "California African American Museum names George Davis as new executive director". Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  16. ^ "Naima Keith Will Leave Studio Museum in Harlem to Serve as Deputy Director at California African American Museum". Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  17. ^ "Harlem's Studio Museum curator Naima Keith named California African American Museum deputy director". Retrieved 2016-02-16.