Captain Paul Cuffe: His Work, Vision, and Living Legacy

Exhibition Opened: September 21, 2018

graphic of Cuffe

An exhibition devoted to the life, times, and legacy of Captain Paul Cuffe–an abolitionist, entrepreneur, merchant, whaler, navigator and much more. Using artifacts from the Museum’s permanent collections and works from partner institutions and private holdings, the exhibition opening coincided with the much-anticipated Paul Cuffe Park. Themes explored include Cuffe’s African and Native American ancestry, his descendants, Cuffe’s life, work, and achievements, and his relationship with other prominent individuals.

Highlights include his work with his extended family, such as his business partner and brother-in-law Michael Wainer, and his vision of a colony in Sierra Leone for African Americans. Cuffe was an abolitionist and believed that if African trade in goods could replace trade in people as slaved, Africa would be on par with the United States in Europe. Items reflecting Cuffe’s abolition activities are represented throughout the exhibit. Because Cuffe’s iconic image is his silhouette, the exhibit also includes a silhouette interactive–a room in which visitors can create their own facial or full-body silhouettes.


3 cuffe images

Caption: (left) An ad from the store Cuffe owned and supplied with his sons-in-law, (middle) Cuffe’s favorite ship, (right) his compass.


Learn more about Captain Paul Cuffe