Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Detroit, Michigan

Mbad Museum and Dabl's African Bead Gallery

Detroit's oldest collection of its kind, some of Olayame Dabl's beads date back about 400 years. 

Tucked into a former house on Detroit’s near west side, a short ride from downtown, the Mbad Museum and Dabl’s African Bead Gallery is the fourth African bead museum to open in the United States. It holds a wide variety of art works, ceremonial beads, and related objects that date back hundreds of years. (Some of the oldest objects are about 400 years old.)

In addition to the huge collection of beads that carry a lot of cultural significance, the museum holds books on African history and culture, paintings and sculpture from local African-American artists, and objects crafted from ivory, silver, and other materials.

The museum and collection are inside of a century-old rowhouse owned by Olayame Dabl. The outside is a sight unto itself, having been covered in bright, colorful patterns and African motifs overlaid with lots of sparkling mirror fragments.

Olayame Dabl has been described as a friendly, soft-spoken man by local blogs and reporters. His collection is the largest of its kind in Detroit. If you ask for a your, Dabl is happy to show visitors his studio.