The Colored Girls Museum Displays The Rich Heritage Of #BlackGirlMagic

This unique museum cherishes the skills of black women and girls as wondrous gifts.

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Located in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood is The Colored Girls Museum. The museum aspires to capture the cultural experiences of “everyday black girls”, according to artist Vashti Dubois.

Dolls on display at The Colored Girls Museum.

Dolls on display at The Colored Girls Museum. (source)

Housed in a 127-year old Victorian home are treasured objects ranging from quilts to a bag of black-eyed peas. Dubois described the communal sanctity of the museum saying, “This museum is a celebration of the ordinary, extraordinary colored girl.”

Hair Comb and Brush

Hair dressing, comb, and brush displayed on the porch of the museum house. (source)

 

The objects in the museum reflect many facets of black culture. Brown-faced dolls with yarn hair sit in the living room. Vibrantly colored quilts adorned with images and clothing scraps hang on walls. In the sitting room, hanging fans serve as a memorial for the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963.

On the second floor of the house is a room dedicated to laundresses. (source)

On the second floor of the house is a room dedicated to laundresses. (source)

In many ways, the treasures inside the museum capture the collective strength and ongoing struggle of black girls and women. Simultaneously, the artifacts instruct visitors about the historically protective and nurturing role black women possess in their communities.

Museum board member Barbara Neely described her own personal journey to her girlhood in Pennsylvania. Prompted by a doll housed in the museum, Neely described how “By the time I was in my late teens, all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there.

“I do not spend a lot of time thinking about that. But something about that doll reminded me that I’d thrown the baby out with the bath water.” In other words, many things in the museum allow visitors to recall memories they may not have previously recognized as valuable.

On the second floor of the house is a room dedicated to laundresses. (source)

On the second floor of the house is a room dedicated to laundresses. (source)

Different artists played a role in the decoration of each room in the house. The displays, which represent personal tributes to strong mothers and grandmothers, are housed alongside Dubois’ family heirlooms.

Artist Marie-Monique Marthol-Clark said of the project “When you think about a museum, about who even visits a museum, it’s not ordinary girls and women of color. [But this museum] brings us from the margins to the center and elevates us, not only those who are celebrities or have a certain degree of accomplishment.”

Artist Vashti Dubois poses in front of the museum (source).

Artist Vashti Dubois poses in front of the museum (source).

Photo source.


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