830 E. Pratt St., 443/263-1800,
HOURS: Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m.
COST: $8 adult, $6 senior, free for children under age 6
Clad in deep black granite, and rising at one of the city’s most historic intersections at a place where old Baltimore  and new mingle together, this bold, monolithic museum examines the lives and history of the Maryland’s African American population. It examines the separate and very unequal societies that segregation created, and it also shows how African Americans made their own thriving and vibrant communities and culture, and created their own joys and futures when equality was an impossible dream.
he three permanent exhibits here—“Building Maryland, Building America,” “Things Hold, Lines Connect,” and “The Strength of the Mind”—reveal the lives of African Americans, from the days of slavery through the gradual gains made during the Civil Rights era.
There are great images and artifacts from the parallel communities and cultures that existed across Maryland, from waterfront resorts to radio stations to neighborhoods, all built because of segregation, both legalized and cultural. Videos of Maryland African Americans play throughout the exhibits, and the commentaries and histories told by those people help bring much of the museum’s written displays to life.
A broad, crimson steel wall arcs through the center of the entire building and even extends outside. This Red Wall of Freedom serves to show the interruptions to the continuity of the culture of African Americans, and the tension that still surrounds race relations in America. The museum is named for, and was created, thanks to the estate of the late Reginald Lewis, a Baltimore  native and prominent lawyer and venture capitalist who built Beatrice PLC into a multibillion-dollar company.