About the museumThe National Great Blacks In Wax Museum is among the nations most dynamic cultural and educational institutions. Because it is a wax museum committed solely to the study and preservation of African American history, it is also among the most unique. Primarily, the presentation of life-size, life-like wax figures highlighting historical and contemporary personalities of African ancestry defines its uniqueness.
Our Beliefs & Values
The Museum’s mission is to stimulate an interest in African American history by revealing the little known, often neglected facts of history; use great leaders as role models for youth; improve race relations by dispelling myths of racial inferiority and superiority; support and work with community groups, schools and other organizations to provide opportunities for youth to pursue careers in the museum industry; and promote economic development in the East North Avenue corridor.
The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum is a 501(c) 3, private nonprofit cultural and educational institution. The Museum is guided by a 12 member Board of Trustees. Because it is a wax museum committed solely to the study and preservation of African American history, it is among the United States most dynamic cultural and educational institutions.
Our Mission & Vision
Our vision and mission is to reawaken people to the beauty of black history.
This unique museum, the first one of wax in Baltimore, Maryland and the first wax museum of African American history in the nation, is the brainchild of Drs. Elmer and Joanne Martin. They established the museum in 1983 with several objectives in mind:
1. To stimulate an interest in African American history by revealing the little-known, often-neglected facts of history.
2. To use great leaders as role models to motivate youth to achieve.
3. To improve race relations by dispelling myths of racial inferiority and superiority.
4. To support and work in conjunction with other nonprofit, charitable organizations seeking to improve the social and economic status of African Americans.
The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum spans the rich history of African Americans across the continents and across time, from Ancient Africa, the Middle Passage and Slavery, through civil rights and today.
Since its opening, the Museum has become a prominent, nationally recognized institution. It has also evolved into a powerful compendium of wax figures. The Museum houses about 150 figures of people from the past- like Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and from the present-like President Barack Obama.
A slave ship replica stands first and foremost in the Museum. Within it, a life-size re-creation of the dark belly of a 19th century slave ship shows figures in the dank ship’s hold, their bodies crushed, but not their spirits.
Also recorded in wax are all the noble ways African Americans have participated in the building of this country, from soldiers in the Civil War to members of the Freemasons. From the Western frontier to polar exploration to the space race, African Americans are highlighted for their contributions. The wax figures that find their place in The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum capture for posterity the emotions and strength that inspired us to establish the Museum: Hope for a community and for the future.
Message from the founders
As the founders of The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, Inc., Dr. Elmer and Joanne Martin knew the importance of having a dream and the gratification of having one’s dream fulfilled. Their dream took form in 1980 when they, with money they had saved to make a down payment on a house, purchased four wax figures. They carried the figures around to schools, churches, shopping malls, and almost anywhere that people would allow them to set up an exhibit. Little did they know that by 1983 they would have a small storefront museum in downtown Baltimore, 21 wax figures, and the good wishes and support of many loyal friends.
Drs. Elmer and Joanne Martin
The possibility that in 1988 they would be celebrating the grand opening of a 10,000 square foot facility on North Avenue seemed almost unimaginable. But they always knew that a higher power than the two of them was guiding this effort. So they have always dared to dream, to believe that if they just “kept the faith,” things would work out. As The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum turn hopes and prayers to an even greater dream, the expansion of The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, Inc. – we ask you to take a moment of your time to get a glimpse of the Martin’s dream in progress. We ask too that you join all of us in saying “thank you” to that higher power that grants all dreamers the courage to dream.