The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is pleased to announce recognition at the Alliance of American Museums annual meeting under the Forces of Change Track as a case study on “How African American Museums Can Remain Relevant.”

The Annual Meeting of the Alliance, from May 7-10, brings together over 35,000 museums and museum professionals, helps develop standards and best practices, sharing of knowledge and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. The HMAAC case study will be presented by HMAAC CEO John Guess, Jr. on May 8 at 2:15 pm.

According to HMAAC Board President Gina Carroll, “The HMAAC Board could not be prouder of this national recognition of the tremendous achievement of Houston’s African American museum as a national trendsetter.” She added, “This underscores how successful our staff has been, with large credit to our CEO John Guess, for keeping the museum on the path of effectively communicating with and uplifting the Houston community, and insuring that HMAAC is a museum for all people.”

The Houston museum, the first recipient of the Alliance’s (then American Association of Museums) Community Service award, has captured the imagination of museum professionals across the country in building an audience of over 30,000 annual visitors from across the country and the world since it opened its doors on a daily basis in February of 2012. It is also known for nationally relevant symposia, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Africana Studies on the African Presence in Mexico and Afropolitans.

The museum has presented cultural icons including U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Pultizer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, Tony Award winner Sarah Jones, Caine Prize winner Tope Folarin, and best selling author Luvvie Ajayi, and it was the first museum to become a part of Ava Duvernay’s film distribution group ARRAY. Previous exhibitions have included The Kinsey Collection, the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection, artists Danny Simmons, John Hernandez, Ellen Kaplowitz, Najee Dorsey, and currently the work of the late Malick Sidibe.

Its work as “a museum in a building and in the community” has led to it sponsoring noted public art murals in low income areas, sponsoring symposia in New York City and Miami, and developing an ongoing sponsorship of other arts organization to take dance, music, arts and STEAM education into under-represented low income areas of Houston, In addition to being the subject of an independent doctoral dissertation, its current sponsorship of an HMAAC Urban Fellow is its second support of a doctoral candidate’s exploration of the contemporary urban and business environment, and its support of an artist’s global photography project inspires people of all ages to learn foreign languages and participate in global awareness through foreign travel. “This is a marvelous recognition of the current and historical museum staff and our board,” said John Guess, Jr,, “and of the tremendous response from our African American and multicultural audience that participates in transformative dialogue that I am proud to say HMAAC has been a part of.”


The mission of HMAAC is to collect, conserve, explore, interpret, and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations. In fulfilling its mission, HMAAC seeks to invite and engage visitors of every race and background and to inspire children of all ages through discovery-driven learning. HMAAC is to be a museum for all people. While our focus is the African American experience, our story informs and includes not only people of color, but people of all colors. As a result, the stories and exhibitions that HMAAC will bring to Texas are about the indisputable fact that while our experience is a unique one, it has been impacted by and has impacted numerous races, genders and ethnicities. HMAAC seeks to be a cultural portal through which people share and converge histories and contemporary experiences that acknowledge and expand the African American experience, and from such interactions come together to build a common future.