The Time Has Finally Come. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opens to the public on September 24 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It will be the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution (SI) and is located at the foot of the Washington Monument and a few blocks from The White House.
The museum will be a place where people can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience and how it has shaped the American identity. As a place of meaning, memory, reflection, laughter, and hope, the museum intends to serve in collaboration with museums and educational institutions outside of Washington to engage new audiences in exploration and preservation of African American history, culture and community throughout the nation and globally.
NMAAHC has held several programs over the last few years to engage the public and scholars for support of the efforts to create the collections and to raise money for the construction of the new museum building and the institution’s future programming. Working with curator and historian Spencer Crew, I contributed three photographs to NMAAHC’s opening permeant exhibits representing the African American migration to Los Angeles from the American South in the 1920s and tourism in the American West in the 1900s from my personal collection and that of Cristyne Lawson.
In May 2016 as part of the celebration of the opening of the the new SI museum, the American Historical Association and NMAAHC held a conference featuring historians offering fresh views on the field of African American History that I attended in Washington DC. The conference intent was to “provide an
opportunity for historians to share research and ideas . . . and set an agenda to guide future inquiry.” It was a fruitful gathering of some of the most distinguished historians in their varied fields of American history and the African American experience. There was much to be learned from the presentations shared from the stage and the conversations amongst the participants in the audiences during the conference breaks. You can view video and the blog from the “Future of the African American Past” conference here.
Read about how the museum came to be and the vision for its future from Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of NMAAHC here.