Local Multicultural Venues
These multicultural museums and centers promote discovery and a sense of community.
The Delaware Valley is home to a diverse mix of cultures and identities. Museums, historic sites and cultural centers provide a space for community members to celebrate their heritage and learn something new. Here’s a sampling of the area’s multicultural venues, plus tips to enhance your visit.
African American Museum, Phila.
The venue showcases heritage and culture through exhibits and events. The mainstay Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1716-1817 features a 100-year timeline with large video projections.
Insider’s tip: Stop by on the second Saturday of each month for family programming such as historical reenactments, storytelling and workshops.
American Swedish Historical Museum, Phila.
The country’s oldest Swedish museum highlights the contributions of Swedes in American society, from art to architecture to science. Bring your little one to the monthly toddler-specific program that includes hands-on fun and discoveries about Swedish culture.
Insider’s tip: The colorful Pippi Longstocking exhibit space entertains kids with dress-up and treasure hunts.
Asian Arts Initiative, Phila.
The center hosts performances, exhibits and kids’ art workshops. On view from Feb. 25-April 13, the Equality Labs exhibit showcases work by the eponymous South-Asian organization, which uses art, research and technology to fight racism and religious intolerance.
Insider’s tip: Keep an eye out for open-mic nights, poetry readings and film screenings.
Johnson House, Phila.
Open for tours Thurs.-Sat., families can explore this historic house that was once a stop along the Underground Railroad. A guided tour for all ages tells the story of the Johnson family, who worked to abolish slavery by moving slaves into freedom.
Marian Anderson Historical Residence Museum, Phila.
Visit the home of the famous contralto who broke through racial barriers to sing at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Explore photos, costumes and memorabilia from Anderson’s life; see her recording space, record room and dining area; watch a documentary of her life; and be treated to refreshments and a live performance from the singer’s protégé, pianist and house founder Blanche Burton-Lyles.
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Phila.
Located in the historic church’s basement, the Richard Allen Museum celebrates Mother Bethel’s founding pastor, who encouraged African Americans to form their own congregations in the 18th century. View artifacts including original pews and pulpit, ballot boxes, muskets used during the War of 1812, Allen’s tomb and an exhibit on the church’s role in the Underground Railroad.
National Liberty Museum, Phila.
The museum’s USA Diversity Puzzle gives students in grades 4-12 a new perspective on diversity in the United States.
National Museum of American Jewish History, Phila.
Dedicated to exploring the history of the Jewish people through artifacts, stories and media, the museum’s core exhibit is a multi-floor, centuries-spanning timeline that chronicles the experiences of Jewish individuals who immigrated to the U.S.
Insider’s tip: Enjoy FREE admission this month.
Paul Robeson House Museum, Phila.
The singer, actor, orator and activist lived in this home with his sister toward the end of his life. It offers tours and an exhibit “Paul Robeson: Up Close and Personal” consisting of albums, paintings, books, photos and other artifacts from his life.
President’s House, Phila.
Step inside the open-air framework of the White House from 1790-1800 and learn about the nine enslaved individuals who served George Washington. Right near the Liberty Bell Center, peruse illustrated panels, glass, timelines and videos to commemorate the history and paradox of the freedom and slavery that happened under one roof.
Polish American Cultural Center, Phila.
The multipurpose center houses a museum with exhibits that pay homage to 1,000 years of Polish art, culture, traditions and famous figures.
Insider’s tip: Short on time? No worries! Visitors say this quaint space can be explored in under a half-hour.
Underground Railroad Museum at the Belmont Mansion, Phila.
Administered by the American Women’s Heritage Society, the only African-American women’s group to run an historic site in Fairmount Park, the house is open for tours of the museum dedicated to Colonial history and the Underground Railroad.
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, Atlantic City
Documenting 20th-century African-American experiences, the museum is home to thousands of artifacts including drawings, paintings and household items.
Insider’s tip: Its collection is updated monthly, so there’s always something new to see.
Croft Farm, Cherry Hill
In addition to the site’s arts center and walkable trails, the farm provides insight into local history. Walk in the steps of the brave individuals who were part of the Underground Railroad, learning about the early owners’ efforts to help fugitive slaves as well as two slaves who, after having their freedom purchased by the farm’s owner, remained working at the mill as a sign of gratitude and later helped establish a settlement of freed slaves.
Indian Cultural Center of South Jersey, Marlton
This hub for the local Indian community hosts dance and fitness classes, performances and other public events.
Insider’s tip: The central hall is adorned with vibrant, larger-than-life murals that depict Indian musical instruments and classical dances.
Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Woolwich Twp.
This church and designated historic site, built to rectify the segregation African Americans suffered in Philadelphia churches, served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Once inside the church, still in use by the congregation, see the 3-by-4-ft. door in the vestibule that led to a crawlspace under the floor where runaway slaves could hide for days.
Peter Mott House, Lawnside
Home to a free, self-made farmer and his wife in the state’s early historically African-American community, the residence is open as a museum.
Insider’s tip: Before you go, learn more about this and other Camden County historic sites via a podcast on the venue’s website.
Delaware and Maryland
Chinese American Community Center, Hockessin
Classes, concerts, workshops, seminars and holiday festivals engage visitors of all ages.
Insider’s tip: Need a new hobby? Choose from more than 20 activity clubs that range from cooking to karaoke to sports.
Governor Ross Plantation, Seaford
Visit the Southern-style mansion to witness the state’s only still-standing slaves’ quarters. Originally a 1½-story structure, following the Civil War, it was turned into a 2-story house for tenant farmers (slaves now freed by the Emancipation Proclamation) and moved farther from the mansion. In the early
1990s, it was restored to its original size and location, providing visitors with a more accurate look into the past.
New Castle Court House Museum, New Castle
The state’s first capitol building also served as the trial site of abolitionists found guilty of violating the Fugitive Slave Act. Today, you’ll find exhibits that illustrate the state’s unique boundaries and how it played a role in the Underground Railroad.
Insider’s tip: Complement the experience with a guided tour of the town’s historic district.
John Dickinson Plantation, Dover
Journey back to the 18th century with costumed historic interpreters who don the roles of real-life characters from the time period, interacting with visitors and other interpreters to provide families with a firsthand look at the contrasting lifestyles of the Dickinson family, poor whites, slaves and free blacks.
Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore
With an array of artifacts, video footage and audio stations, the museum provides an interactive look at local and national history. The permanent collection takes families on a journey through 400 years of African-American history in Maryland, with a focus on politics, sports, art and education.
Insider’s tip: Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders are granted free admission during the first Saturday and Sunday of each month as part of the Museums on Us program.