The Searchable Museum

The National Museum of African American History & Culture created an online exhibit as a “place to explore history and culture through an African American lens”. The site is split in four sections:


The constellations section offers multiple artifacts or stories that reveal themes related to the African American experience across time and genre.

If you click on a constellation, such as James Baldwin’s 1965 password, a web of resources pops up alongside it, showing the wider understanding of the object.
I clicked on the top right icon from the first screenshot and you can see it prompts you with a link to further explore the exhibition where the image is from. Not all the related content surrounding James Baldwin’s 1965 Passport had links to external sites, some simply offered a paragraph of more information.


Currently, there are four exhibitions posted on the Searchable Museum. Slavery and Freedom explores the history of slavery in America, with focus on the stories of the enslaved. This exhibit offers a more nuanced approach of who helped shape the nation of the United States. Making a Way Out of No Way is an inspiring exhibit devoted to African Americans who strengthened their communities through networks that cultivated economic and social successes. This exhibit shows how these individuals paved a path for broader social change. Spirit in the Dark examines Black music, activism, and popular culture through the diverse aspects of the Black religious experience. Millie Christine focuses on the lives of enslaved conjoined twins, Millie Christine McCoy. The twins were born a decade before the Civil War and their exhibit explores the themes of family, profit, freedom, and slavery in the 19th century.

All of the exhibitions are created differently on The Searchable Museum. Slavery and Freedom begins with a short video clip to welcome the viewer to the content. The exhibition then has four parts, with each part containing multiple chapters that detail the information further.

The opening video for Slavery and Freedom.
Here are some of the chapters for the first section of the exhibition.
Here is a closer look at the chapters. You can see they continue branching off sections to fully examine the history of the topic.

Making a Way Out of No Way also begins with a short video clip, and then is separated into themes.

Here you can see some of the themes that Making a Way Out of No Way shows. Spirit in the Dark and Millie Christine similarly presents their exhibitions by exploring themes.


The stories portion of The Searchable Museum focuses on “Lesser Known Stories” and stories from the “Present to Past.”

“Lesser Known Stories” presents the page in the screenshot above. On your desktop, you can scroll down and see dozens of boxes that detail different stories.
After clicking on one of the boxes from the “Lesser Known Stories” main page, a new page will pop up that offers more in depth research on these often forgotten stories. This screenshot is from Bridget “Biddy” Mason’s page.

The “Present to Past” page focuses on different areas and show different aspects of systemic racism and how it has developed over time.

Learn More

“Learn More” includes two sections on “How We Know What We Know” and “Resources.” “How We Know What We Know” focuses on the methods, tools, and sources that are used to study African American history and culture. “Resources” allows for viewers to dive further into the history and culture of African Americans. The resources reveals where The Searchable Museum found all the information for their exhibitions and provides access to those sources and additional sources for those interested in investigating more.

One Reply to “The Searchable Museum”

  1. I had a lot of fun looking around the Searchable Museum. I think this is a fascinating educational tool and a model for what digital exhibits should look like. I found the constellations particularly cool because they visually demonstrate historical context. I can imagine school projects at many different grade levels that all use this website. I’m wondering what you think of its search function and how much it lives up to the name of “Searchable Museum”?

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