Old Dillard Museum

Old Dillard Museum (ODM) in Fort Lauderdale highlights the significant contributions of the Black community in Broward County. The Old Dillard School renovations were made possible through a cooperative effort between the City of Fort Lauderdale, the School Board of Broward County, the Broward County Commission and the Black Historical Society. The thrust of this effort was to preserve Old Dillard and create a cultural arts education center in which the Old Dillard Museum would be housed.

In February 1991, the museum was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Wander through the galleries and halls and be stimulated and inspired by its collections and exhibitions. It is a rich and important part of South Florida’s history. One never leaves ODM without a better understanding and appreciation of its community’s historic, cultural and artistic achievements, both past and present. It houses four galleries and a Resource Center. The artifacts and documents represent examples of a rich African-American heritage as well as that of other peoples of color.

Built in 1924, The Old Dillard School, originally called “The Colored School,” was not only the first school constructed for Blacks in Broward County, but is also one of the oldest buildings in Fort Lauderdale.

You are invited to join us on a historical voyage back in time, so that we can, together, appreciate the rich heritage and influence of the Old Dillard Community. Antique artifacts from Old Dillard Museum’s evolving permanent collection are housed in this exhibit, showcasing a comprehensive representation of the lifestyles and accomplishments of the local community. A number of its objects have been donated by community pioneers, elders, and Old Dillard School Alumni Association members. Their desire is that they may be enjoyed by present and future generations. The Museum is also committed to documenting the “oral traditions” of its peoples’ past, home and abroad.


Jazz: Language of the Soul

A soul stirring addition to the museum’s permanent galleries is dedicated to Julian “Cannonball” Adderley – former music instructor at the Old Dillard School. This permanent exhibition houses an interesting collection of photographs and memorabilia of Florida’s jazz greats. One may observe the history of jazz, its composition, arrangement and impact on other cultures. The education programs and interactive components are tailored to enhance students’ knowledge of music and the music industry. They are designed to give the students a feel for the rich and proud heritage of jazz.


Minds-On, Hands-On Interactive Gallery

Many visitors choose to spend their time in the Minds-On, Hands-On Interactive Gallery; the only gallery in the museum that allows visitors to touch a wide range of museum objects from many cultures of color. The hands-on experiences allow visitors to engage in experimental learning as well as reinforce the information shared in the other galleries. It is an entertaining opportunity for youngsters to utilize their personal observations. The participants are able to gain a complete understanding of ethnic art, music, dance, literature and many aspects of daily life by participating in activities involving musical instruments, dancing, fabrics, basket weaving, adinkra stamping, chalk drawing, creative writing, storytelling, masquerading, and hair braiding, among others. Here, the young will be able to explore the creativity of varying cultures and the heritage of their local community.


Library Resource Room

Our Resource Center offers ethnic reference materials such as books, documents, artifacts, art catalogs, films, audio and video tapes, which are at the disposal of museum visitors. Students, teachers, historians and researchers engage in intergenerational and interactive research projects on a variety of topics related to peoples of color. The Library Resource Center provides resource/research opportunities in history, culture, and the arts, and complements the museum’s education programs.