From paintings inspired by the harrowing journeys of the Triangular Trade to joyful stories and photographs of Black girlhood, museums across the United States are illuminating and celebrating Black History Month with Black art exhibits featuring unique pieces of artwork. Explore the world of The Colored Girls museum or learn more about Frederick Douglass in an immersive, poetic exhibition about the great 19th century abolitionist through exhibits that span from New York City to Los Angeles.

SECA Award Exhibit at Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California

Since 1967, the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art Art Award has honored California artists with their own respective exhibitions in the San Francisco MOMA. This year’s exhibition features black artists Binta Ayofemi who honors a BIPOC presence via various mediums involving space, sound and materials, and Gregory Rick, who creates large-scale, vivid paintings depicting conflict and struggle using high-contrast imagery. The SECA exhibit is available through May 29, 2023.

Black Power Naps at Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York

Conceived by Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa Black Power Naps is an interactive installation at MoMA that allows visitors to practice rest as a form of reparation and repair for historical and ongoing injustices. The artists are reclaiming the lost art of relaxation in the name of those who were denied it in times of enslavement, whether it's physical or within the mind. The exhibition runs through April 16, 2023.

Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South at National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

The National Gallery of Art acquired more than 40 sculptures, paintings, quilts and more from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation for its Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South exhibition. All of the art featured is by Black, Southern artists, many of whom grew up using recycled or second-hand materials to create their work. This exhibit draws on the themes of the deep and spiritual connection Black people maintain to their culture, even in the face of a rich legacy of slavery, available through March 26, 2023.

Touching Roots: Black Ancestral Legacies in the Americas at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

Touching Roots brings together different works from Black artists across the Americas, all of whom are heavily inspired by the ancestral arts and customs from across the African continent. The exhibit traces various narratives of blackness across the Atlantic world by bringing together these pieces. The exhibit is available through May 21, 2023.

Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia

Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass is an immersive, poetic exhibition surrounding the great 19th-century abolitionist. In this resonating art experience of enthralling visuals and sound, internationally renowned London-born artist and filmmaker Sir Isaac Julien brings the integral historical figure to focus for all. This exhibit is on display until July 9, 2023.

Afro-Atlantic Histories at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California

Afro-Atlantic Histories illustrates the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies in the African diaspora. This LACMA exhibition features artworks produced in Africa, Europe and the Americas over the last four centuries to reevaluate histories of enslavement and liberation. Each section of the display considers the integral impact of the African diaspora reflected in historic and contemporary artworks. Afro-Atlantic Histories will be shown through September 10, 2023. 

The Language of Beauty in African Art at Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

This presentation of more than 250 sculptures from distinct cultures across the African continent stands to decolonize the Western aesthetic standards long placed on these objects and to elevate and reclaim the local appreciation and value bestowed by its local indigenous perspectives of the works’ makers and communities. The exhibit runs through February 27, 2023.

Black American Portraits at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, Georgia

Black American Portraits travels to Atlanta’s Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, and reframes portraiture to center Black American subjects, this time placing Black women portrait artists center stage. A new painting by Calida Rawles, who celebrates her 25th anniversary as a Spelman College alumna this year, and a photograph of Spelman Alumna Stacey Abrams by Sheila Pree Bright join the collection. The exhibition is on display until June 30, 2023.

Sit A Spell at The Colored Girls Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

With the understanding that Black girlhood is often fraught with societal hardships that can interfere with health and well-being, Sit A Spell features the work of six Black women artists who were paired with African American girls between the ages of 10 and 18. Their resulting  portraits simultaneously evoke “movement and rest, contemplation and action.” The exhibition reminds us that while stillness and motion initially seem to be at odds, they actually sustain each other.

Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter: “Ain’t I a Woman” at Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York

The work of prison reformer activist and artist Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter centers on storytelling and healing from the institutional, legal, and cultural processes that have brutally stripped Black women and girls of their bodily autonomy. Her film, Ain’t I a Woman, Baxter reveals her carceral experience of giving birth in shackles and her fight for more effective reproductive rights, along with her multipart photographic work connecting the histories of abuse faced by Black children, run through August 13, 2023.