The Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum (WBHS/M) located on the corners of North 27th and West Center Streets opened its door and its heart to the community, city, and state in 1987. Based on the premise that a people who know their history will grow to love and appreciate themselves more, the Society is striving to create a bright future out of a heartbreaking past.
WBHS/M is the only institution in the state dedicated to preserving Wisconsin’s African American history. The Society is also an affiliated member of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The mission of WBHS/M is to document and preserve the historical heritage of African descent in Wisconsin. The Museum exhibits, collects, and disseminates materials depicting this heritage. Serving as a resource center for all people interested in Wisconsin’s rich African American heritage, the Museum’s purpose is to encourage and promote family community and cultural activities.
Our founding director, Clayborn Benson III, produced the documentary “Black Communities.” The three-part documentary (USA, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee) was the inspiration for establishing WBHS/M in 1987. In 1988, the Museum became an affiliated member of the Wisconsin Historical Society. The building, constructed in 1898, was the Engine No. 2 Fire Station then was converted into the Center Street Library in 1928. Today, it’s a vibrant historical society and museum.
In addition to being a museum, WBHS/M is a unique venue offering a community gathering place. From presentations to performances or business to entertainment, guests will enjoy their event in WBHS/M among its educational and inspiring exhibits.