One of the most interesting cultural locations in the Sweet Auburn district is that of the APEX Museum, located on Auburn Avenue. The APEX Museum was founded in 1978, and it has a wide variety of exhibits and displays. The museum is spread out in an easily understandable fashion. As you sweep around the floor, the artifacts and exhibits essentially follow chronological order. In the beginning, there is a discussion of the kings and queens of different parts of Africa, developing into a discussion of the beginning of the slave trade, with a representation of what parts of Africa the people came from, and where they went.
Without one of the guides giving me a preliminary tour, the layout may have confused me. At the beginning of the tour, the guide showed us two videos giving background information on the slave trade, as well as information about Auburn Avenue. One of the most interesting parts of the second video was that Auburn Avenue was one of the most successful African-American communities in the country. In fact, Auburn Avenue was one of the richest African-American streets during its hay day. After the video, the guide offered me a laminated sheet that would take me on the self-guided tour. The sheet was a useful aid, providing some of the key points about each exhibit in case a visitor did not want to read through the entire collection.
Throughout the space, there are quite a few colors, but many of them are muted, earthy tones. Greens, browns, and oranges abound, with infrequent splashes of bright colors except in those exhibits which used colors to distinguish different areas of the map. One of the biggest problems with this site is their advertising. Before looking into it, I had never noticed it. I have walked along Auburn Avenue a dozen times and I have ever noticed this site before. It is tucked away in an inconspicuous building. After talking with the guides, I found out that they hope to get a bigger presence in the community, and that they are actually working on Phase 2, which would get them a bigger space and be much more noticeable in the public eye.
When considering the cultural impact of this space, it can be somewhat hard to discern. However, when taking in the site as a whole, it becomes somewhat clearer. The APEX Museum may not be the most visited site along Auburn Avenue, or the most impactful, culturally speaking. However, it gives a good chronology of the development of African-American life and the cultural changes that occurred when they came to America. When walking one of the halls, there is a representation of many of our modern technologies that were produced by African-Americans. Without some of these items, such as the cell phone, our lives would be nowhere near what they are like today. This museum is a direct result of the cultural development along not only Auburn Avenue, but in African-American communities across the country. And, with the construction of Phase 2, they will be able to further aid in the proliferation of the culture.
Photos taken by the author.