The African American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC) has finally found a place to call home, and that home is on Boone Farm on Route 413. Don’t let that fool you though; they will still be enriching the lives of many throughout the entire county and beyond with their pop-up exhibits, mobile museum, in person live events and now virtual programming.
Boone Farm, with its original structure dating back to the 1700s, seems the perfect location for this culturally rich museum. The farm itself has an interesting history, one that includes many people who came to work at the farm during the great migration of the 1940’s and 1950’s. As chance would have it, Linda Salley, the museum's executive director and board president, met many of the women who worked the farm during that time. They migrated from the south because they heard they could find work at Boone Farm and make a better life for themselves in Bucks County. In addition, the Langhorne location just happens to have been home for some of the oldest free African American families.
Although AAMBC’s new permanent home is the big news right now, the museum has been making an impression on all who have been on the receiving end of their programming for several years. They have presented pop-up exhibits for corporations, community and faith based groups, and several schools in Bucks County. Most recently they created a virtual programming series entitled, “Untold Stories and Hidden Figures of Bucks County”. The pilot episode features the stories of six African American soldiers buried at the historic Slate Hill Cemetery in Yardley, PA. This video can be viewed on the AAMBC website at: https://infoaambc.org/slate-hill-cemetery/. The museum plans to produce an additional 9 episodes for this series, focusing on different historic locations and the people who lived and contributed to the African American experience in Bucks County. In addition, an interactive pop-up exhibit called “Who Am I” recently wowed students in the community during Black History Month. In fact, it was so engaging they came up with a new word to describe it: “Educationment”.
Programs like this reflect the mission of the museum which is to promote understanding and appreciation of the African American experience through:
History: Honoring and illuminating the legacy of the African American experience from African roots to the present day.
Education: Programming that demonstrates the importance of African American history and culture to everyone.
Inspiration: Highlighting contributions that show the diverse journeys of African Americans in art, culture, politics, sports, and other areas.
AAMBC also has a vision “to honor the legacy of the African American experience, inspiring pride in our heritage, educating about the diverse journey of our people, and sharing stories that depict our shared ancestry, thus enriching the lives of Bucks County families.” Tiffany Thomas Smith, a local attorney and supporter of the mission of the AAMBC, feels grateful that the museum is here in our own backyard to “preserve, acknowledge and celebrate the rich African American history Bucks County holds”.
AAMBC has much to do to expand the services it offers, and to continue to bring these amazing and inspiring stories and exhibits to our community. A year-long fundraising effort to restore and renovate Boone Farm to its full beautiful and functional potential is underway. There are many supporters, donors and benefactors that have contributed along the way, and the Board, comprised completely of volunteers, works hard every day to make this museum the historical gem as it has come to be known.
The museum will be holding its first fundraising event to support the renovation of the property at Boone Farm called “Building Our Dream” on December 2 at 6-9 PM. The event will be hosted by Parx Casino in Bensalem and will feature a cocktail reception, live music, event honorees and a silent auction. Tickets will be available on the AAMBC website: infoaambc.org. According to Linda Salley, President and Executive Director of the AAMBC, “We are grateful to Parx Casino and our other supporters who have helped us along the way. We are especially grateful to the Bucks County Commissioners whose gift of granting us a lease on Boone Farm will enable us to achieve our dream of a permanent home in Bucks County.
Having Boone Farm as a home feels right for the AAMBC and we are fortunate to have them as our neighbor. Bucks County is honored to have such a wonderful place that is educating us about those who have come before and left their mark in history.