The Apollo Historic tour in Harlem provides patrons with the...

The Apollo Historic tour in Harlem provides patrons with the opportunity to visit the historic theater and explore the legendary history of the Apollo with behind-the-scenes access. Credit: Shahar Azran

The rich legacy of African Americans in the arts is the theme of this year’s Black History Month, with exhibits that focus on everything from the music of Louis Armstrong at his home in Queens to behind-the-scenes tours of the famed Apollo Theater. But beyond celebrating the abundant artistic accomplishments, the month is always a great time to visit historical sites, among them the Harriet Tubman home and the Underground Railroad Museum in upstate New York and the Black Heritage Trail in Boston.

The following sites in the Northeast excel at illustrating stories of bravery and resilience within the community. 

Joysetta and Julius Pearse African American Museum of Nassau County

110 N. Franklin St, Hempstead

The late museum director Joysetta Pearse always said that “Black history is America's history 365 days a year,” recalled program director Monet Green. Pearse believed that exhibits focusing on historical figures like the Jennings family, civil rights pioneers from New York City, and Bass Reeves, a U.S. deputy marshal now the subject of a streaming series, “reflect the things that our children can be proud of,” said Green. As part of Black History Month, the museum will also host students for a reveal of the 47th stamp in the Black Heritage series, which honors Constance Baker Motley, a federal judge who was the first African American woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cost Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $5 for self tour, $8 for guided tour, $10 for guided tour and movie (advance booking required for guided tour)

More info 516-572-0730, jjpaamuseum.org

Southampton African American Museum

245 North Sea Rd., Southampton

The Southampton African American Museum is housed in a former...

The Southampton African American Museum is housed in a former Black-owned barbershop and beauty parlor from the 1940s. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Black superheroes as envisioned by students at the Innovation Charter School in East Harlem will be on display at the museum, part of the current “The Black Power Exhibit: Revolutionary Figures from Around the Diaspora," a chronological look at Black revolutionaries running through March. The students’ artwork will be accompanied by essays describing the characters’ powers and how they use them to uplift the Black community, explained Frank Bold of the Bold Art Society, which curated the exhibit. Our goal, he said, was “to use their expertise in animé, video games and superhero movies to create the ultimate revolutionary figure.”

Cost Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; email Bsimmons@saamuseum.org to schedule an appointment; suggested donation $25

More info 631-353-3299, saamuseum.org

Louis Armstrong House Museum

34-56 107th St., Corona

The Louis Armstrong Center in Queens is the permanent home for the...

The Louis Armstrong Center in Queens is the permanent home for the 60,000-piece archive of Louis and Lucille Armstrong, and it features a 75-seat venue offering performances, lectures and films. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Throughout February, the museum will run a special house tour focusing on Armstrong’s impact on the Civil Rights Movement. “Many view him as a civil rights pioneer,” said the museum’s executive director Regina Bain, noting that he was one of the first African American artists to refuse to play at a hotel where he was not allowed to stay. Museum visitors can also tour the new Louis Armstrong Center across the street from the home, which houses 60,000 items from his archive, including papers and records in an exhibit titled “Here to Stay,” curated by Jason Moran, artistic director for jazz at the Kennedy Center. 

Cost Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; $20 for house tour and exhibit

More info 718-478-8274; louisarmstronghouse.org

Apollo Theater

253 W. 125 St., New York City

Behind-the-scenes tours of the historic theater, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, are offered when the theater is available. Historian Billy Mitchell tells stories about artists like James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Mary J. Blige. “It’s my honor to share my personal journey at the Apollo for over 58 years,” said Mitchell. “It’s an experience you will never forget.” Opening on Feb. 1 to coincide with Black History month is a new exhibit in the revitalized Victoria Theater. “From the Victoria to the Village: A Visual History of Black Creative Spaces,” features the photography of Alex Harsley, including some rare photos of the Jewel Box Review from the ‘50s. It runs through April 30 in the Laura and Frank Baker Gallery.

Cost Theater tours, Monday and Saturday, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Wednesday, 11 a.m., reservations required; $17, groups of 20-55, $15 a person. Baker Gallery open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; free

More info 212-531-5300, apollotheater.org

Harriet Tubman National Historical Park

180 South St., Auburn, New York

Harriet Tubman lived in Auburn, New York from 1859 until her passing...

Harriet Tubman lived in Auburn, New York from 1859 until her passing in 1913. Credit: AP/Mike Groll

Established in 2017, the 32-acre park is the site of three buildings significant in the life of the abolitionist known for her role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad: the two-story brick home where she lived, the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged (rebuilt in 1953 and now a museum), and the Thompson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, where Tubman worshipped. The buildings are jointly managed by the National Park Service and Harriet Tubman Home, Inc. The church is currently closed for renovations, but 90-minute tours cover the residence, the home for the aged and the grounds. “We believe a house is just a building without a story,” said site manager Paul Carter. “We try to tell the story of her life.”

Cost Tuesday-Saturday, tours 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., appointment required; $7, $3 kids 6-17

More info 315-252-2081, harriettubmanhome.com

Museum of African American History and Black Heritage Trail

46 Joy St., Boston

The Black Heritage Trail, a mile-and-a-half loop in the Beacon...

The Black Heritage Trail, a mile-and-a-half loop in the Beacon Hill section of Boston, highlights sites relevant to the Black community in the late 1700s and 1800s. Credit: Getty Images/Paul Marotta

The former Abiel Smith School is one of the oldest public schools in the United States. Now home to the museum housing artifacts and rotating exhibits, the school is the beginning of the Black Heritage Trail, a mile-and-a-half loop in the Beacon Hill section of Boston that highlights sites relevant to the Black community in the late 1700s and 1800s. National Park Rangers lead tours of the entire trail during the spring and summer, but a self-guided tour is always available using the NPS app. Another popular site on the tour is the African meeting house, which was built in 1806 by African craftsman and served as the African Baptist Church of Boston.

Cost Tuesday-Sunday, tours at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., reservations required; $15, $8 kids 13-17

More info 617-725-0022, maah.org

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

825 Depot Ave., West, Niagara Falls

“One More River to Cross” is the permanent exhibit at the center, located in the former U.S. Customs House, which overlooks the International Suspension bridge where many freedom seekers crossed into Canada. The museum encourages visitors to learn about the people who sought freedom via the railroad, said Saladin Allah, director of community engagement. Freedom Conversation tours take place twice a day, always based on the experiences our guests bring into the space, said Allah. “We don’t have docents who memorize content … we engage our guests. We facilitate conversations around modern-day topics that are linked to the history of the Underground Railroad … they leave the space feeling a sense of empowerment knowing they can be part of our modern network to freedom.”

Cost Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Freedom Conversation tours 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; $10, $8 kids 6-12

More info 716-300-8477, niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org

National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.

“Taking the Stage” exhibit at the National Museum of African...

“Taking the Stage” exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. explores the history of African Americans in theater, film and television to celebrate their creative achievements.  Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture/Douglas Remley/ Smithsonian

Part of the Smithsonian, the museum is housed in a building inspired by the three-tiered crowns seen in West African art. Wide-ranging exhibits cover civil rights, sports, education and more. In keeping with this year’s theme, “Taking the Stage” is dedicated to African American contributions in film, theater and television, said curator Steven Lewis. Look for the Detroit Lions jacket Eddie Murphy wore in the 1987 film “Beverly Hills Cop” or Michael Jackson’s famed fedora. “Our visitors are drawn to this gallery,” said Lewis, “because it highlights some of the most iconic figures in popular culture while also providing important context about the African American struggle for positive representation and artistic expression in the American entertainment industry.” 
Cost Open Monday, noon to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., free, timed entry passes required

More info 844-750-3012, nmaahc.si.edu

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