In 2016, THE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ART celebrated its 40th anniversary as a nonprofit cultural and educational institution dedicated to the interpretation, promotion, and preservation of art by or about people of African descent and their contributions to world culture. Exhibits and programs at the museum allow artists and their art to inspire new thinking about issues that intersect with the shared experiences of people throughout the African diaspora and beyond. MAAA proudly serves as an exhibit venue for emerging and world-renowned artists, a community event space, and a field trip destination for students from local schools.
The Palmer C. Hayden Collection is a central part of the permanent collection at MAAA, giving the public insight into the life and work of one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance. The Palmer C. Hayden Collection includes the John Henry Series, a narrative art series of 12 oil paintings by Palmer Hayden illustrating the legendary story told in the Ballad of John Henry. The permanent collection at MAAA includes works from the United States as well as paintings, masks, batiks, carvings, and ceremonial objects from Africa, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and South America.
THE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ART was founded in 1976 by noted artist and art historian Dr. Samella Lewis and a group of academic, artistic, business, and community leaders whose goal was to increase public awareness of African American art. The museum operates based on individual and corporate donations; the generous support of Macy's, which donates space inside its Baldwin Hills Crenshaw store; gift shop proceeds; event rentals; and an enthusiastic community of members. MAAA is also sustained by the dedication of its Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers.