Through core exhibits, we create a community of lifelong learners who explore, experience and embrace Missouri’s rich and enduring African-American heritage. Only the second of its kind the country, The Griot Museum of Black History & Culture opened as The Black World History Wax Museum in February 1997.
After 10 years of being variously known, we hit upon what seems to be the perfect name “The Griot Museum of Black History & Culture” (The Griot”). Our name more accurately reflects our mission and purpose as the keeper of the stories, culture, and history of Black people.
In some African countries, the “griot,” (pronounced “GREE-OH”) is a highly respected member of the community who collects, preserves and shares the stories and objects of the community.
The Griot Museum of Black History and Culture interprets stories and features life-size likenesses of African Americans with a regional connection whose life activities influenced the state, region, and sometimes the entire country.
Visitors can “meet” and learn about Carter G. Woodson, Josephine Baker, Dred and Harriet Scott, Elizabeth Keckley, William Wells Brown, James Milton Turner, Clark Terry, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Earl. E. Nance Sr., Miles Davis, Madame C.J. Walker, York, Percy Green, and others.
The Griot also features an authentic slave cabin, originally built on the Wright–Smith Plantation in Jonesburg, Mo. Visitors can solve puzzles, view documentary videos, and “board” a scale model section of a ship that is the actual size used to transport Africans to America during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The Griot’s “Motherland Museum Shop,” offers Afrocentric clothing, jewelry, figurines, sculptures books, videos, and greeting cards. In addition to its permanent collection, life-size wax figures, other art, artifacts and memorabilia, The Griot hosts traveling art exhibits by local and national artists.
To enhance its community outreach, The Griot sponsors community education projects, gallery talks, and cultural celebrations. It also operates the Heritage Intern Project (HIP), a youth training program that focuses on heritage preservation, museum management and career preparation.