Road Warrior

Where to find interesting Black History Month exhibits

Harriet Baskas, Special to CNBC
Collection of Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Frances Albrier Collection. © Cox Studio

Around the country this month, Black History is being celebrated with a range of exhibitions, celebrations and special events in various cities.

Among the wide variety of offerings is the Smithsonian's much-anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened last September on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It documents African American life, history and culture with thousands of artifacts and with installations and personal stories.

Upcoming events include a free concert on Sunday, February 26, with the U.S. Army Band, Pershing's Own, in a performance of chamber music works by African American classical music composers. Museum entry is free; but timed tickets are still required.

Less than a mile away, the Newseum (adult entry fee $24.95) is hosting "1967: Civil Rights at 50," an exhibit exploring civil rights events and actions that took place during a critical year in the struggle for equality in this country.

There's a long list of Black History Month events and destinations in the five boroughs of New York City, which has been undeniably shaped by African-African history, said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of tourism marketing firm NYC & Company.

"This is where the Harlem Renaissance challenged cultural norms, hip-hop music was born and Jackie Robinson broke down baseball's color barrier," he said.

Also, consider a hip-hop tour with Hush Tours through the Bronx and Harlem, or join Harlem Heritage Tours or Harlem Spiritual Tours for music, food, history and landmark-rich adventures. In Queens, the Louis Armstrong House Museum offers an opportunity to learn about Armstrong's contributions to jazz, his role as a civil rights activist and to hear some of the audio recordings Armstrong made on his home tape recording machine.

Cool Papa Bell’s St. Louis Stars jersey, bat, cap and sunglasses.
Courtesy National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, NY

In Cooperstown, NY, visitors can learn about the African-American experience through the lens of baseball, at the Pride and Passion exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

"Set up in a timeline layout, 'Pride and Passion' is about the African-American experience with America's national pastime, beginning in the mid-1800s through to the present day," said Gabrielle Augustine, the museum's assistant curator.

While anytime of the year is a great time to visit the Hall of Fame, African-American Heritage Month is a great time to visit "as there are fewer visitors and people can take the time to fully experience the exhibit," said Augustine.

Source: KMS Photography

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, MI, (now home to the bus where Rosa Parks made a stand by sitting down) is celebrating Black History Month with a new tour that includes music, dramatic performances and interactive experiences. The exhibit explores ideas and innovators that changed the world, the story of northern migration, the history of jazz and the civil rights movement and the presidency of Barack Obama.

Nearby in Detroit, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History hosts a wide variety of cultural and community events, and offers a wide variety of temporary exhibitions and permanent exhibitions. These include the 20-gallery core exhibit "And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture" and "Inspiring Minds: African Americans in Science and Technology."

Out west, All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50 is on view at the Oakland Museum of California through February 26, 2017.

The exhibition explores the history of the radical and complex political party – officially, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense – created by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966. Included are historical artifacts, rare photographs, contemporary art and first-person accounts from former Panthers, scholars, and community members.

And through April 23, 2017 the Seattle Art Museum is presenting "Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series," the artist's epic sixty panel work chronicling the exodus of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North in the decades after the First World War.

The series is jointly owned by the museum of Modern Art in New York and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D. C. This year marks the first time in two decades that all sixty panels are being shown together on the West Coast.

—Harriet Baskas is the author of seven books, including "Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can't or Won't Show You," and the Stuck at the Airport blog. Follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas. Follow Road Warrior at @CNBCtravel.