Small, concise and culturally valuable, NAAM opened in 2008 after more than 30 years of planning. It occupies the space of an old school, which, until the 1980s, educated a large number of African American children in the Central District. After the school closed, it was occupied for a while by community activists who prevented it from being demolished. Inside, the museum's main exhibits map the story of black immigration to the Pacific Northwest, especially after WWII.
Details are given of some of the leading African American personalities, including George Washington Bush (the first black settler in Washington state), Manuel Lopes (Seattle's first black resident), Quincy Jones (the record producer who grew up in Seattle) and Jimi Hendrix (no introduction required). One of the prize exhibits is a hat Hendrix wore at a 1968 concert in LA. A separate room is given over to temporary exhibitions.