Dear Friends of the GPBHM,
In 1975, Mrs. Bertha Calloway envisioned sharing the rich history of African Americans with the Omaha community. She founded the Great Plains Black History Museum (GPBHM) to be a resource for the community. The mission To preserve, educate and exhibit the contributions and achievements of African Americans with an emphasis on the Great Plains region. To provide a space to learn, explore, reflect, and remind us of our history.”
Recently, America has experienced unrest due to senseless injustice and racial violence. Once again, America is at a crossroads as it struggles to make sense of the racial abuse of its African American citizens. The Board of Directors & staff of the Great Plains Black History Museum would like to express our deepest sympathy to the families who have lost their loved ones during these times of unrest.
We at the Great Plains Black History Museum know that now is the time to work on the healing process and bring everyone together to make a fair and just environment for all. The great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated “the time is always right to do what is right. We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools” We at the GPBHM want everyone to know that we are here for you as a resource to help in educating everyone on the history of African Americans to bring people together and encourage the dialogue needed to bridge the divide and bring us together as one.
Eric L. Ewing, Executive Director
Portia Cavitt, Board President
Welcome to the
Black History Museum
Mission Statement: To preserve, educate, and exhibit the contributions and achievements of African Americans with an emphasis on the Great Plains region. To provide a space to learn, explore, reflect, and remind us of our history.
Virtual Exhibition “Black and White in Black and White” Reveals Dignity, Hope of African Americans in Early 20th-Century America
In 1965, 16-year-old Doug Keister acquired 280 glass plate negatives, originally found at a local garage sale. He immediately made prints from some of the plates, revealing powerful, early 20th-century portraits of African Americans in Lincoln, Nebraska. These astonishing images are now on display in a virtual exhibition curated by Keister, Black, and White in Black and White: Images of Dignity, Hope, and Diversity in America. The online exhibition is hosted by Great Plains Black History Museum.
Black and White in Black and White features striking photographs attributed to African American photographer John Johnson. Using his Lincoln neighborhood as his canvas, Johnson crafted these ennobling images of his friends and family between 1910 and 1925. Equally as important as Johnson’s depictions of African Americans are his images of multi-racial groups, an occurrence that was almost unheard of at the time.
The Smithsonian Institution recently acquired 60 of these photographs for their collection. Michèle Gates Moresi, curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, underscores the importance of Johnson’s work: “They speak to a time and a place where African Americans were treated as second-class citizens but lived their lives with dignity…You can read about it and hear people talk about it, but to actually see the images is something entirely different.”
Black and White in Black and White: Images of Dignity, Hope, and Diversity in America is curated by Douglas Keister, traveled by Exhibit Envoy, and presented with support from California State University, Chico and Robert A. Terrebonne
Book an Appointment
Due to COVID, we are requesting all guests to book an appointment prior to visiting the museum. We’re open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 1 pm to 5 pm. To ensure that we are following social distancing we are limiting our visitor’s sizes to no more than 8 visitors at a time. To ensure the safety and health of all visitors to the Museum face mask will be required for entry. Thank you, and be safe.
About Great Plains Black History Museum
For the past 40 years, The Great Plains Black History Museum has been a striving institution dedicated to publicizing and preserving the achievements of the region’s vibrant African American heritage. To ensure the success both of a future capital campaign and the sustainability of the institution, the museum must gain broad community acceptance. The target audiences will include the general African-American community, regional residents, schoolchildren, and tourists.
GPBHM vision is to collect, preserve, and make available to the public materials documenting the Black experience. To be an educational resource for schools and inspire learning through our permanent collection, exhibits, programs, and educational offerings. To generate growth for North Omaha and to facilitate research, instruction, and artistic expression adhering to authenticity and truthfulness in presentation.
Meet Our Board
Click on the photos below to read the board member’s biography.
Great Plains Black History Museum
2221 N. 24th Street
Omaha, NE, 68110
Hours of Operation
Thursdays – Fridays and Saturdays
*Private Tours available by Appointment