National Museum of African American History and Culture Celebrates Fifth Anniversary
In September, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will celebrate five years as the nation’s largest cultural destination dedicated to exploring the African American story and its impact on history. After operating virtually for 10 years, the museum opened on the National Mall Sept. 24, 2016.
The museum will honor its fifth anniversary, themed “Living History,” with a season of new offerings, including the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap CD and book and an art exhibition exploring the Black Lives Matter movement, violence against African Americans and how art depicts Black resilience. Also this fall, the museum will open an exhibition exploring the Reconstruction era; a virtual museum initiative, called Searchable Museum; and offer online and in-person programming to engage people around the world in African American history and culture.
“I am honored and proud of the work the museum has accomplished over the past five years to share African American history and culture with the world,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “Our anniversary theme, ‘Living History,’ aptly captures the current moment and our mission—and inspires many of our efforts this year. Connecting the past to the present and the future is a hallmark of our work.”
During its first five years, the museum has welcomed more than 7.5 million visitors in person and more than 15.4 million visitors to its website. Its social channels have had more than 604 million impressions and gained more than 630,000 followers.
The museum opened with 12 permanent exhibitions and has hosted an additional 17 temporary exhibitions on topics ranging from African Americans in World War I to how The Oprah Winfrey Show helped shape American culture. It has hosted more than 250 public programs and is actively collecting items to document the history of the contemporary social justice movement.
“This is a very good time to thank the thousands of people, from presidents and patrons to visitors and volunteers, who have made our museum strong,” Young said. “By passionately pursuing our mission, we honor the community whose strength and perseverance gave birth to the world’s largest institution dedicated to preserving and exploring African American history and culture.”
August 20:The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap was released. This first-of-its-kind collection chronicles hip-hop’s growth and impact from parks in the Bronx to worldwide influence. Included in the anthology are 129 tracks spread across nine CDs, along with a 300-page coffee table book featuring 11 essays from prominent music scholars, authors and journalists covering topics such as entrepreneurship, graffiti, women in hip-hop and more, as well as extensive notes on each track.
September 10: The “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.” exhibition will open in the museum’s “Visual Art and the American Experience” space. The updated exhibition space will explore the Black Lives Matter movement, violence against African Americans and how art depicts Black resistance, resilience and protest. As part of this update, the museum will display the newly acquired portrait of Breonna Taylor painted by renowned artist Amy Sherald.
September 24: “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies” is a 4,300-square-foot exhibition exploring the Reconstruction era through an African American lens. It will feature 175 objects, 200 photographs, 15 audio, video and interactive programs, and a companion book. The exhibition will explore the deep divisions and clashing visions about how to rebuild the nation after slavery. It will connect that era to today’s efforts to make good on the promises of the Constitution.