Pennsylvania’s history is full of notable figures who not only helped to shape the future of the Commonwealth but also the future of the nation. Discover some of these amazing stories when you browse the "Trailblazers: Notable African Americans in Pennsylvania History" exhibit located in the East Wing Rotunda at the Pennsylvania State Capitol. The exhibit includes 23 portraits in total, with eight rotating into the featured public display each year.
While visiting the Capitol grounds you can also view a recently-installed statue – “A Gathering at the Crossroads.” This piece commemorates the families and businesses of Harrisburg’s Old 8th Ward (which was demolished to expand the Capitol grounds) and those who fought for the right of all citizens to vote. The monument depicts African-American abolitionist William Howard Day and suffragist Frances E.W. Harper.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania offers an expansive collection of exhibits that aim to preserve and interpret the region's history and culture. “Objects of Valor” is an exhibit commemorating the Civil War experience in Pennsylvania. It includes artifacts, objects, uniforms, and weapons from Pennsylvania’s infantry. It also holds one of the museum’s most impressive pieces – a narrative painting of Pickett’s Charge that stands 16 feet tall and 32 feet wide.
Many historians posit that American Civil War generals were preparing for the expectation that Harrisburg would be the “next great battle” site of the historic conflict. While – thankfully – the battle ended before reaching Harrisburg, the city is the site of one of the most comprehensive Civil War museums in the country. The National Civil War Museum portrays the struggle as a timeline, providing a balanced look at the conflict from the issues straining the nation through the war's conclusion at Appomattox Court House.
Historic Harrisburg Association serves as the Capital Region’s advocacy organization for historic preservation and urban revitalization. A non-profit charitable and educational organization, HHA’s primary aims are to promote the restoration, preservation and enjoyment of historic neighborhoods and landmarks, whose stewardship is vital to the region’s residential, commercial, economic and cultural life.
Nestled in a historic structure that is free to visit, many visitors enjoy the various thematic events that Historic Harrisburg puts on throughout the year. A highlight is their Underground Railroad discovery tour, usually held in February.
This Black-owned and operated art gallery showcases original art, sculptures, and prints by people of color. The name itself – Nyeusi – means “Black” in Swahili. Works from local artists shine alongside exhibits and artifacts collected from across the globe. Many pieces are from the owner’s personal collection with items coming from Ghana, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and more. The gallery’s Midtown Harrisburg location puts it in the center of a culture-rich destination that’s a natural meeting place for artists, storytellers, creators, and entrepreneurs.
The Susquehanna Art Museum serves as a catalyst in the Commonwealth to offer educational programming and diverse rotating exhibits. As a non-collecting museum, SAM's exhibits change throughout the year to provide new experiences for each visit! Renewed and repurposed from a reclaimed bank building, the museum is a majestic structure fitting of both the value of wealth that once filled its vaults and the priceless nature of the art that fills it today.
The AAH is a non-profit art gallery & school, with the mission to promote and encourage the visual arts, enriching the well-being of the local community. Various rotating exhibits keep every visit engaging. Instructional classes and events are held throughout the year. The Art Association also features a sales gallery that’s displayed separately from the main exhibit space.