The Griot is....
Only the second of its kind in the country, The Griot Museum of Black History opened as The Black World History Wax Museum in February 1997. In 2009, we hit upon what seems to be the perfect name “The Griot Museum of Black History” ("The Griot”). In some African countries, the “Griot,” (pronounced “GREE-OH”) is a highly respected member of the community who collects, preserves and shares the stories, objects, and cultural traditions of the community. Our new name more accurately reflects what we do -- collect, preserve, and share the stories, culture, and history of Black people - particularly those with a regional connection to American history.
To accomplish our work, The Griot uses life-size wax figures, other art, artifacts, and memorabilia to interpret the stories of African Americans with a regional connection who have contributed to our country’s development. Visitors can “meet” and learn about Carter G. Woodson, Josephine Baker, Dred and Harriet Scott, Elizabeth Keckley, William Wells Brown, James Milton Turner, Clark Terry, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Earl. E. Nance Sr., Miles Davis, Madame C.J. Walker, York, Percy Green, Macler Shepard, Chief Sherman George, and others.
The Griot 's interpretative program includes an authentic slave cabin, originally built on the Wright–Smith Plantation in Jonesburg, Missouri. Visitors can solve puzzles, view documentary videos, and “board” a scale model section of a ship that replicates those used to transport Africans to America during the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Our Founder &
Chief Executive Officer
Lois D. Conley, founder and executive director of The Griot Museum of Black History (formerly The Blackworld History Wax Museum) has dedicated many years toward researching African-American history, with particular emphasis on the Underground Railroad and Westward Expansion. Conley was a consultant to the National Park Services study which documented the trails of hundreds of enslaved Blacks that used it to secure their freedom via the Underground Railroad. She has also lectured in schools,universities, churches, and has conducted tours to Black historic sites.
Conley consulted for the Royal Tropical Museum in Amsterdam for its exhibition on slavery. She has visited and studied museums in Mexico, Great Britain, Canada, and throughout the United States. Conley was a member of the Neighborhood Leadership Team for St. Louis’ 5th Ward Sustainable Neighborhood Project, has served on grant review panels for the Missouri Arts Council, St. Louis Regional Arts Commission and United Way, and was a founding member of the St. Louis Mid-Size Arts Collaborative. A graduate of St. Louis University, Conley earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications and master’s degree in Education. She also earned a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Missouri-St. Louis as an E. Desmond Lee Scholar, and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society.
Conley has been honored by numerous organizations including the Missouri Humanities Council, Top Ladies of Distinction, the Harambee Institute, Elijah Lovejoy Society, National Council of Negro Women, the YWCA of Metropolitan St. Louis, the St. Louis Argus, St. Louis Gateway, Mound City Bar Association, Classic, Greater St. Louis Community Empowerment Foundation, J.U.S.T.I.C.E., Grand Center, The Royal Vagabonds. She is a member of the 2006 class of Leadership St. Louis.
In addition to its permanent collection, The Griot hosts local and national traveling arts and humanities exhibits. To enhance our community outreach, we sponsor community education projects, gallery talks, and cultural celebrations.
The Griot’s “Motherland Museum Shop,” offers Afrocentric clothing, jewelry, figurines, sculptures, books, videos, and greeting cards.