Great Blacks in Wax

It’s hard to believe that my time in Baltimore is less than two weeks now. Strangely enough I feel really in control, and I’m still enjoying every moment and trying to check the few remaining things off my Baltimore “to do” list. So last Friday, on a rainy afternoon, I decided to take advantage of having access to a car and check out the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum (sadly it’s in a neighborhood you don’t want to walk to).
It was really one of the more touching museums I’ve ever been to. After having visited the Native American Museum on the National Mall a few weeks ago, and feeling completely overloaded by all the graphics and flash and dash and overall sensory overload, I very much appreciated the simplicity of this museum.
There were so many “characters” that I remembered reading about and studying in elementary and high school, so it was a good reminder in adulthood to revisit their stories and the roles they’ve played in history. [Harriet Tubman and a scene from the Underground Railroad pictured above].
As a graphic designer who often works on signage projects, I even embraced the 8.5 x 11″ xerox print outs, poor typographic layouts (lots of centering) and inconsistent labeling throughout the museum. In a world that it so digital, I much preferred the “old school” lack of flash and dash character of the museum’s exhibits. It only seemed appropriate.
As you enter the museum you go down a set of stairs and into a slave ship. There’s something about seeing the wax figures and bodies with no space in between them, accompanied by the stories that is more powerful than watching a movie. There’s even a story of slaves being raped – a reality that I was never taught in school. And deeper in the museum there’s an entire room downstairs (recommended for visitors over the age of 13) all about lynching. I very much appreciated that they don’t try to sugar coat history.
And as you weave your way from scene to scene you’re reminded of names you know, and others you may not know (but still benefit from their contribution to history). [Malcolm X above, Fubu below].
You literally take a trip from the time of slavery to Obama as president. While I’m disappointed I never visited this museum until now, I’m glad I was able to visit with the latest chapter to close the book (for now at least).
Click here for more about the museum and plan your visit next time you’re in Baltimore.

601 E North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21213


  • Inspiring. Isn’t it fun when you are a tourist in your own town. When we left Chicago 7 years ago, I had a big long list of all the “must sees” before we left.

    Another fun thing to do is video all your old haunts. I dragged 2 of my girlfriends on a video shoot one afternoon. We documented the bar where my husband and I first met, my first apartment, best place for margaritas…it is a hoot to go back and look at.

  • I haven’t been to Baltimore in a couple of years so I’ll add this to my files for the next time. I go through the same thing every time I move. I always ask how is it that there are so many things I didn’t do when I lived somewhere for years? But it’s also a lot fun too, isn’t it?

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