The Banneker Historical Park and Museum maintains a permanent gallery that tells the story of the Bannaky Family and Benjamin Banneker’s life and legacy. Special features including artifacts uncovered during archaeological excavations at the park, a telescope owned by Major Andrew Ellicott, and items loaned to Banneker by the Ellicott’s- textbooks and even the desk where Banneker worked and studied. Visitors can learn about slavery and freedom, tobacco farming, archaeology, astronomy, almanacs, and surveying the land. Benjamin Banneker lived a unique life driven always by his inquisitive nature, which is apparent through his many accomplishments!
The reconstructed cabin and farmstead site:
In 2006 we opened our “historic” cabin in the back lawn of our site. It is a reconstruction of what Benjamin Banneker’s home, constructed after his mother’s death, most likely would have looked like. There are many farm tools and items of a simple life well lived on display. It is unlocked for tours upon request whenever the museum is open to the public. It has been enhanced by both an herb garden right outside the door and a larger vegetable garden out back. Further over on the site is an orchard of trees that Banneker would have grown. In coming years we hope to add a larger tobacco plot and a tobacco drying shed. This site serves as the heart of our annual Colonial Market Fair, when we invite artisans and craftsmen, re-enactors and visitors alike to come experience a taste of Colonial life.
The Community Gallery:
In our entrance space we feature a wide variety of rotating exhibits that usually run for three months at a time. Past exhibits have included collaborations with local high school and college students, archaeology, African American history, women’s history, slavery, the construction of the Capital building, Ellicott family letters, quilts, and much more. Keep an eye on this site for information on our next installation.
Banneker Discovery Zone:
The Banneker Discovery Zone, at one end of the Community Gallery, invites children to interact with Banneker-related hands-on materials. There are a variety of children’s books and colonial toys awaiting exploration by the younger set, as well as learning bins that contain interactives focused on topics like Banneker the Colonial Farmer, Banneker the Astronomer, Banneker the Clock Maker, and Banneker the Mathematician. A computer linked to SkyViewCafe allows older children and adults to explore many aspects of the night sky, even traveling back in time to see the night sky as Banneker saw it during his survey of Washington, D.C. Check out our natural history exhibits, including a few live animals and rotating seasonal displays.
ViewSpace is an internet-fed, self-updating, permanent exhibit from the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope.