- Learn more about the history of Black people in the United Kingdom, through archival records, the arts, and much more.
- Enjoy one of the exhibitions at the dedicated gallery space, and experience work from Black creators.
- Explore the surrounding area of Brixton, and take in the local culture.
- Discover the archives and the library, which houses around 6,000 books.
Located in Windrush Square in the centre of Brixton, the Black Cultural Archives are iconic as the only heritage centre that is specifically dedicated to the histories of Caribbean and African culture in the UK. With a focus on the 20th century in particular, the Black Cultural Archives use their resources to archive material that relates to Black people in the UK and their experiences. The Archives, which were created by a group of founders that included activist and historian Len Garrison, is known as 'the home of Black British History', and is part of the Windrush National Organising Committee and Windrush Action Group. With three centuries worth of materials in the archives as well as a library filled with 6,000 books, the archives, which opened in 2014, contain a wealth of information relating to Black British history and the African diaspora.
There is a big emphasis on learning at the Black Cultural Archives, making it a great place for kids and families to learn about Black history, culture, and its significance for people in the UK. There are lots of educational tools on offer, making the Black Cultural Archives a popular place for schools and education groups. With school workshops and a youth forum, there are plenty of ways for children to engage with the material at the archives, and learn about it in the context of Brixton, London and the wider UK.
The regular exhibitions at the Black Cultural Archives also make it an engaging place to learn and experience work informed by and exploring Black culture. There is also an online Digital Space, that makes exhibitions even more accessible, and contains work relating to art, design and more. For example, the Black Cultural Archives featured a photographic series in 2020 named 'Stories of Black Leadership II: Breaking Barriers', with portrait work by photographer Joy Gregory. In the series she photographed Black women in positions of leadership, inspired by aristocratic portraiture and accompanied by an oral history interview. Work such as this has made the Black Cultural Archives a significant resource for many, and provides material that reflects the experiences and oral histories of Black people in the UK.
With lots of things to do and see at the Black Cultural Archives for kids and adults of all ages, this is a significant place to come if you are visiting London. While there are educational and learning spaces that are generally popular with school groups, there are also opportunities to learn and engage on an individual level, with events, talks and screenings taking place there throughout the year. During school holidays keep an eye out for the family events that are put on at the Archives, such as the Half Term Puppet Show, run by Delvene Pitt of Littlecrowns Storyhouse. This particular workshop explores African folk tales through puppet shows, and there are opportunities for arts and crafts too, where you and your child can make their own puppets! Suitable for children aged 6-10, this is a great example of how the Black Cultural Archives works to engage children.
The building, 1 Windrush Square, is also home to a cafe, a shop with gifts inspired by the Black Cultural Archives collection, and dedicated learning spaces. If you're ready for something to eat on your visit, the cafe is the place to grab a cup of tea and slice of cake. Or, for something more substantial, check out the African-inspired menu that contains a range of tasty options to pick from. If you fancy venturing out into Brixton, there are many great places to eat, with Brixton Village just around the corner. For some authentic Jamaican food, try Healthy Eaters on Electric Avenue, or Umana Yana Roti on Croxted Road is the place to go for some delicious Guyanese dishes. There are also lots of local cafes and pubs dotted around Brixton Road and the surrounding areas, so there is something for every taste.
If you and your family had a great day out at the Black Cultural Archives and are looking for some more top family days out in Lambeth, there are plenty of museums and attractions nearby to choose from. The Florence Nightingale Museum on Lambeth Road is a great place to learn about the life of the famous wartime nurse, and the Imperial War Museum, also on Lambeth Road, has everything you need to know about the history of Britain's wars.
What to know before you go
- The Black Cultural Archives opening times are from 11.30am - 5pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
- The building is completely wheelchair accessible and there are accessible toilets on every floor.
- The Black Cultural Archives are free to enter, but there may be charges for individual exhibitions.
- The Black Cultural Archives are easiest to get to by public transport, as there is no dedicated parking area. If you do choose to drive, you can get there by travelling up the A23 along Brixton Road, and turning off on Effra Road. The only local parking is on-street on Saltoun Road or Effra Road, and there are also some Blue Badge spaces.
- The nearest train station is Brixton Tube station, which is just a three-minute walk away, down Brixton Road.
- There are also lots of buses in the area, and the Black Cultural Archives can be reached via any bus services travelling to or from Brixton. The nearest bus stops are Lambeth Town Hall or St Matthew's Church.
- There is also the option to cycle on your visit. There are many places to automatically hire bikes in London, with a Santander Cycles drop off point on Saltoun Road.
- Alternatively, this venue is also easy to access on foot from the surrounding areas.