In 1961, a diverse group of Chicago artists and educators, including Margaret and Charles Burroughs, set out to correct the apparent institutionalized omission of black history and culture in the education establishment by founding a museum committed to that purpose. The Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art was begun in the former home of south side contractor John Griffin that was converted into the Quincy Club and later served as a boarding home for railroad workers before becoming the Burroughs home.
In 1968, the museum was renamed after Jean Baptist Pointe DuSable, a Haitian fur trader who was the first permanent settler in Chicago. In 1971, the Chicago Park District granted the museum’s request to use a former park administration building in Washington Park. The museum became the city’s principal memorial to Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable and the eighth member of the consortium of museums on Park District land. In 1993, the museum opened a new wing bearing the name of the late Mayor Harold Washington that included additional gallery space on two floors and a 450-seat theatre.
Last year DuSable Museum completed major structural improvements to its facilities and upgrades including installation of a new computer LAN, improved security and HVAC systems, restoration of the original Daniel Burnham-designed north entrance, and a redesigned Trading Post museum store that were enabled by a special $3 million capital grant from the State of Illinois. Long range plans are currently focused on accreditation by the American Association of Museums and acquiring the Park District roundhouse to the south to expand museum facilities to include additional galleries, curatorial and education storage, and conservation facilities.
The DuSable Museum remains a community institution dedicated to serving the cultural and educational needs of our members. Our research, curatorial and educational divisions are committed to listening and responding to these needs, as well as the ever-increasing demands of art and cultural historians nationwide.
The DuSable Museum of African American History is the first museum of its type in the country and is the only major independent institution in Chicago established to preserve and interpret the historical experiences and achievements of AfricanAmericans.