Showing posts with label Smithsonian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Smithsonian. Show all posts

Saturday, May 28, 2022

National Museum of African American History and Culture to Hold Juneteenth Events

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will host a variety of activities virtual and in-person highlighting the experience of Blacks celebrating Juneteenth.

The programming schedule consists of:
  • Tuning In To Juneteenth, June 6 at 6 p.m. This virtual program features Stephen Lewis, the museum’s curator of music and the performing arts, discussing the debut of the Juneteenth Playlist featuring the best of jazz, soul, rhythm, and blues, gospel, classical and other genres. The program is free but registration is required.
  • Juneteenth Dishes to Taste and Savor, June 6 at 6 p.m. Museum curator Joanne Hyppolite and Sweet Home CafĂ© Chef Ramin Coles will talk virtually about how at-home audiences can design and cook a Juneteenth Day menu. The program is free but registration is free.
  • Public Program: Texas Freedom Colonies, June 11, 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. ET. Andrea Roberts, a scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, will discuss her work researching, documenting, preserving, and mapping “Freedom Colonies”—areas where Blacks started intentional communities between 1865-1935 during Reconstruction and the Jim Crow eras in Texas. This event will occur in the Oprah Winfrey Theater and will be streamed on the museum’s platforms. The program is free but registration is required.
  • Public Program: Juneteenth: Watermelon & Red Birds—A Conversation with Nicole A. Taylor, June 13 at 7 p.m. This in-person event, which will take place in the Oprah Winfrey Theater, will showcase cookout author Nicole A. Taylor and Kevin Young of the museum discussing Taylor’s latest work “Watermelon & Red Birds.” The book talks about 19th century Juneteenth celebration and the latest recipes for modern-day tastes. A reception will follow the discussion and books will be available to purchase. The program is free but registration is required.
  • One Year Later: Juneteenth for all Americans, June 15 at 7 p.m. Kevin Young of the museum moderates in-person a panel of scholars as they discuss the historic and social complexity of Juneteenth. The program is free but registration is required.
  • Juneteenth Community Day, June 19. Celebrate the festivities of Juneteenth in person at the museum with three community events. There will also be craft-making activities occurring from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. All programs are free but registration is required.
  • Storytime: The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez, June 20 at 11 a.m. Noted author Rio Cortex will read from her book “The ABCs of Black History.” The program is free but registration is required.
  • Juneteenth Soundstage: Alphonso Horne and the Gotham Kings, June 20 at 3 p.m. ET. Two-time Grammy-nominated trumpeter Alphonso Horne and the Gotham Kings bring the sounds of New Orleans in-person and virtually, to the museum’s Oprah Winfrey Theater. The program is free but registration is required.
  • Juneteenth: A Soldier’s Story, June 20 at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Museum visitors can learn about the United States Colored Troops, the Black servicemen during the Civil War, and their connection to Juneteenth.    

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The National Museum of African American History and Culture presents the next page from Our American Story

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is proud to present the next page froOur American Storyan online series for Museum supporters. We offer these stories to honor and celebrate the African American experience, share an immensely rich history and culture, and inspire and sustain our community as we move toward the future together.

The Second Great Awakening, an early 19th-century religious revival in the United States, marked an era of transformation for America and a new path forward for Jarena Lee. Born into a free Black family in Cape May, New Jersey, in 1783, Lee navigated the intense religiosity and social reformation of her time to emerge as the nation’s first African American woman preacher and the first woman to be recognized as an evangelist in the male-dominated African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

Lee’s journey to Christianity began when she moved to Philadelphia as a young adult in 1807. Like many Americans of her time, Lee struggled with changing cultural beliefs on human nature, morality, and the path to salvation. In search of answers, she sought out a personal connection to the gospel and heard the teachings of Bishop Richard Allen, a renowned preacher in Philadelphia. Inspired by his powerful sermons, Lee decided to join the church and get baptized.

But Lee’s journey of faith would be difficult. Lee struggled to find a place for herself and her passion for the gospel within the male-dominated church—a battle that brought on depression and even thoughts of suicide. She also wrestled with the inherent conflict between her spirituality and a desire for “the vanities of this life.”

Despite these challenges, Lee remained determined to go beyond the church and share her faith in Christ with the world, a conviction that she carried back to New Jersey, where she moved with her new husband, Methodist Pastor Joseph Lee, in 1811. While in New Jersey, Lee was able to serve in an African Methodist congregation and nurture her faith—but she still couldn’t practice what she believed was her true calling: preaching.

Seven years into her marriage, Lee became a widow. The grief that followed her husband’s death only strengthened Lee’s conviction to “preach the word of God.” She returned to Philadelphia soon after, determined to advocate for women in the ministry.

Bishop Allen, who by then had founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, initially refused to grant Lee permission to preach because of the church’s ban on female ministers. But Lee, driven by the intensity of her faith, began delivering sermons wherever she could—in open fields, town squares, and her home.

One day, while attending a Sunday worship service at Bishop Allen’s church, Lee heard a guest preacher struggle with the delivery of his sermon. She sprang into action, picking up where he left off, and presented her own testimony. Bishop Allen was so impressed by Lee’s preaching and boldness that he publicly endorsed her. She was soon permitted to preach, and later became the first ordained woman preacher in the AME Church.

Lee’s evangelical career spanned multiple decades and intersected with her advocacy for equal rights and powerful leadership in the abolitionist movement. Lee also was the first African American woman to publish an autobiographical memoir, The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, a Colored Lady, Giving an Account of Her Call to Preach the Gospel, which was first released in 1836.

“For as unseemly as it may appear now-a-days for a woman to preach,” Lee wrote, “it should be remembered that nothing is impossible with God. And why should it be thought impossible . . . or improper for a woman to preach?”

The relentless persistence of Jarena Lee, who died in 1864, helped break down barriers and pave the way for African American women to enter the ministry. Her achievements were especially remarkable, given that they occurred during a time when women’s contributions were often overlooked, ignored, or forgotten.

Like so many pioneers of her time, Lee’s story is one of resiliency, optimism, and spirituality—values that are deeply rooted throughout African American history and culture. Although Jarena Lee’s history is not widely known, her legacy as the first African American woman preacher represents an important example of women defying social barriers, transcending traditional gender roles, and touching the hearts, minds, and souls of many.

If you’d like to learn more about Jarena Lee’s incredible journey—or if you are interested in exploring other powerful but lesser-known stories in African American history—please visit our online Searchable Museum today. This groundbreaking—and 2022 CIO Award-winning—initiative by the Museum brings innovative, immersive digital experiences and evocative content directly into the homes of supporters like you.

The Museum’s exhibitions and digital collections help connect individuals with a deeper understanding of the African American story by sharing the lives of pioneers like Jarena Lee. Please help the Museum continue this critical work by joining the Museum or making a donation today.

To learn more about Jarena Lee and other influential figures in African American history, please visit our Searchable Museum.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

National Museum of African American History and Culture to re-open in May

The Smithsonian Institution announced Friday that about half of its museums, along with the National Zoo, will reopen in May after shuttering in November because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is slated to re-open on May 14, 2021. Passes will be available starting May 7th.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) recently announced that the city will ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions on May 1. At that time, museums will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Smithsonian’s African American museum names new director

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has a new president.

On Tuesday, the museum announced that Kevin Young, the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, will take over for Lonnie Bunch III (the museum’s founding director from 2005 to 2019), who is now the Secretary of the Smithsonian.

The leadership change will take effect Jan. 11, the museum said.

Young, an author, a poet, and an editor, led the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (2016-2020) as the institution acquired the manuscript of Alex Haley’s “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” including a once-lost chapter, and the Harlem-based archives of Harry Belafonte and James Baldwin.

Before Young took the helm at the Schomburg Center, he was a professor at Emory University. He was also the curator of the university’s Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, a 75,000-volume collection of rare and modern poetry, and curator of literary collections.

“I look forward to directing the National Museum of African American History and Culture in this next phase of leadership, after its founding, opening and dynamic exhibitions and events,” said Young in a museum press release. “Having visited the museum myself with my family, I know what a powerful place it is, transforming visitors both in-person and online, and revealing the centrality of African American culture to the American experience. I am eager to engage further directions in the museum’s mission, embracing our digital present and future while furthering conversations around Black history, art, liberation, and joy.”


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

On Friday, September 18, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will reopen to the public.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will begin a gradual, phased reopening for the Museum. The museum will be putting safety first  with new measures in place to protect everyone’s health.  Free,  timed-entry passes will be required for entry. Please review the important information below as you plan your visit.

Learn more about the NMAAHC reopening here: Welcome Back

Saturday, August 01, 2020

The NMAAHC wants your Black Lives Matter protest and Covid19 stories

Last month, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) launched “Voices Of Resistance And Hope,” a web portal where members of Black communities can share their experiences of life during the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.

From the NMAAHC web page:

Voices Of Resistance And Hope

Sharing Stories In Times Of Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic and the mass protest movement for police reforms and social justice are affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. We want to know how these issues have affected you.

You are invited to be part of this online collection of personal stories from members of the African American community during the current crises in America. Upload your images, first-hand accounts, personal stories, essays, poems, photographs, short videos or observations. Your personal expressions can help to create shared experiences with others in the nation and reinforce what so many of us are longing for during these turbulent times — an opportunity to celebrate the American values of resiliency, optimism, and spirituality.

You can find out more about Voices of Resistance and Hope or share your story here: Voices Of Resistance And Hope

Monday, January 27, 2020

Walmart donates $5 Million to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Jan. 27, 2020 — Walmart announced today a $5 million grant to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. Walmart’s support of NMAAHC is a part of the company’s continued commitment to advance causes that promote diversity and inclusion.

“The National Museum of African American History & Culture is a vital institution, deepening everyone’s understanding of our nation’s history through the lens of the African American experience,” said Julie Gehrki, vice president of philanthropy at Walmart. “Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have a long history of supporting diversity and inclusion, and we are pleased to support the museum as they continue to build out programs to advance their mission.”

This grant is the second donation Walmart has made to support the museum’s initiatives, with the first $5 million donated in 2010 to support the design and construction of the facility. The second investment will benefit the visitor services programs, corporate leadership council and other areas including collections and acquisitions, scholarship and research, education and public programs, exhibitions and emerging technologies.

Since opening in 2016, NMAAHC, the 19th Smithsonian Institution Museum, has welcomed more than 7 million visitors who have explored the exhibits and more than 3,000 artifacts on display. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture, and is a public institution open to all, where anyone is welcome to participate, collaborate, and learn more about African American history and culture. Later today, Walmart will host a private event to celebrate the museum’s contributions and acknowledge the critical role the Congressional Black Caucus played in helping to make the museum a reality.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation seek to transform systems to help create more equitable opportunities for all. Specifically, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation invest in work to diversify talent pipelines, build more inclusive small business ownership and enhance community cohesion. Most recently, Walmart funded a report published by FSG, which outlines steps employers can take to remove barriers to advancement of frontline employees of color.

For more information on Walmart’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and philanthropy, please visit

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Alvin Ailey Photography Collection Is Now Available to the Public

On the 30th anniversary of Alvin Ailey’s death (Dec. 1), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is making available the collection of more than 10,000 photographs chronicling the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 1961 to 1994. The Jack Mitchell Photography of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Collection includes 8,288 black-and-white negatives, 2,106 color slides and transparencies, and 339 black-and-white prints depicting private photo sessions, repertory by Alvin Ailey and a wide range of choreographers and iconic solo performers.

Jack Mitchell’s collection documents the dance company’s evolution while capturing the true idiosyncrasies and physicality of movement through still images. The photography showcases the innovative performances and groundbreaking artistry of Ailey, who shined a spotlight on the contributions and experiences of the African American heritage that inspired the racially diverse performances he presented that forever changed American dance and culture.

Acquired in 2013, the entire digitized photography collection has been recently made available to the public online via the Smithsonian’s Online Virtual Archives. The collection is jointly owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation.

“To have one photographer as talented as Jack Mitchell capture the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s history allows us to really witness the groundbreaking and historic nature of Alvin Ailey’s dance style and his vision for a dance company,” said Spencer Crew, interim director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “It’s particularly difficult to capture the essence of performing arts in photography, yet this collection showcases the ephemeral nature of the performances that made the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater so special to so many audiences around the world.”

Mitchell’s photography vividly illustrates the evolution of Ailey’s principal dancers, notable performances and Ailey himself. The collection contains photographs of over 80 choreographed performances by Ailey, including his debut piece “Blues Suite” along with “The River” and “Revelations,” one of Ailey’s most popular and critically acclaimed pieces that tells the African American story from slavery to freedom and remains one the most beloved works of modern dance, acclaimed as a must-see and applauded by audiences around the world. The collection also features portraits of Judith Jamison, who was Ailey’s muse, most notably for the tour-de-force solo “Cry,” and who he entrusted to become artistic director before his death. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s other earliest and most revered dancers are featured, including Dudley Williams, Sylvia Waters, Masazumi Chaya and Donna Wood.

“Photographer Jack Mitchell was one of the great chroniclers of the performing arts, including his iconic work with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for over three decades,” said artistic director emerita Judith Jamison. “Alvin Ailey was a pioneer in opening doors for performers of all backgrounds, especially black people, to share their stories in performances that inspired, enlightened and brought together all of us. He was a genius of a choreographer who celebrated African American culture and the modern dance tradition in stirring masterpieces like ‘Cry,’ ‘Blues Suite’ and ‘Revelations.’ I am thrilled that the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has made this treasured collection available so the public can further experience the artistry and the history of the company and our founder Alvin Ailey.”

Jack Mitchell and Alvin Ailey

Mitchell (1925–2013) was an acclaimed photographer who began chronicling the work of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1961. Ailey (1931–1989), one of the most influential choreographers of modern dance, dedicated himself and his dance company to creating ballets that not only accelerated the careers of young African American dancers, but also captured the attention of national and international audiences. Through Mitchell’s collaboration with Ailey, and later with Jamison, they were able to produce a unique body of lasting art, fusing the meaning and movements of dance and the techniques of photography.

Following its 60th anniversary, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s new season of performances begins at New York City Center Dec. 4 and runs through Jan. 5, 2020, with subsequent performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Feb. 4 and a national tour continuing through May.

About the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed over 6 million visitors. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. For more information about the museum, visit, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat—or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” grew from a now‐fabled March 1958 performance in New York that changed forever the perception of American dance. Founded by Alvin Ailey, recent posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—and guided by Judith Jamison beginning in 1989, the company is now led by Robert Battle, whom Jamison chose to succeed her July 1, 2011. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for an estimated 25 million people in 71 countries on six continents—as well as millions more through television broadcasts, film screenings and online platforms—promoting the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance tradition. In addition to being the Principal Dance Company of New York City Center, where its performances have become a year‐end tradition, the Ailey company performs annually at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami‐Dade County in Miami, The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, California, and at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark where it is the Principal Resident Affiliate, and appears frequently in other major theaters throughout the United States and the world during extensive yearly tours. The Ailey organization also includes Ailey II (1974), a second performing company of emerging young dancers and innovative choreographers; The Ailey School (1969), one of the most extensive dance training programs in the world; Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs, which bring dance into the classrooms, communities and lives of people of all ages; and Ailey Extension (2005), a program offering dance and fitness classes to the general public, which began with the opening of Ailey’s permanent home—the largest building dedicated to dance in New York City, the dance capital of the world—named The Joan Weill Center for Dance, at 55th Street at Ninth Avenue in New York City. For more information, visit

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Ally financial donates $1 million to National Museum of African American History & Culture

Ally Financial announced a $1 million donation to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday, Oct. 16, with a check presentation by Ally Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey J. Brown to interim director of the museum, Spencer Crew. The museum, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is the nation's largest museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture, and its impact on the world today.

This donation supports Ally's commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion through education, understanding and action.

"Championing diversity and inclusion is a cornerstone of our culture at Ally and at the foundation of what it means to do it right," said Brown. "An important part of this includes education and an understanding of the rich fabric of diversity. The National Museum of African American History and Culture tells the story of America through the lens of black history and culture, and we are proud to be able to help support them in that mission."

Brown was joined for the check presentation by 24 students from historically black colleges and universities who were invited by Ally to tour the museum. Prior to the museum tour the students participated in a learning session on the topic of design thinking that was led by Ally.

The students are in Washington, D.C. for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) 18th Annual Leadership Institute. TMCF is the nation's largest organization exclusively representing the black college community. Brown has been named CEO of the Year by TMCF and will be honored at the 32nd Anniversary Awards Gala on Saturday, Oct. 19.

About Ally Financial Inc.

Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) is a leading digital financial-services company with $180.4 billion in assets as of June 30, 2019. As a customer-centric company with passionate customer service and innovative financial solutions, we are relentlessly focused on "Doing It Right" and being a trusted financial-services provider to our consumer, commercial, and corporate customers. We are one of the largest full-service automotive-finance operations in the country and offer a wide range of financial services and insurance products to automotive dealerships and consumers. Our award-winning online bank (Ally Bank, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender) offers mortgage-lending services and a variety of deposit and other banking products, including savings, money-market, and checking accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Additionally, we offer securities-brokerage and investment-advisory services through Ally Invest. Our robust corporate finance business offers capital for equity sponsors and middle-market companies.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Dr. Spencer Crew named Interim Director of the National Museum of African American History & Culture

Spencer Crew is serving as the Interim Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). He is also the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American, African American and Public History at George Mason University. 
Spencer has worked in public history institutions for more than twenty-five years.  He served as president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for six years and worked at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), Smithsonian Institution for twenty years.  Nine of those years, he served as the director of NMAH.  At each of those institutions, he sought to make history accessible to the public through innovative and inclusive exhibitions and public programs. 
His most important exhibition was the ground breaking “Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration 1915 – 1940” which generated a national discussion about migration, race, and creating historical exhibitions.    He also co-curated “The American Presidency A Glorious Burden” which is one of the Smithsonian’s most popular exhibitions. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has attracted worldwide attention because of the quality of its presentations and focus on race, interracial cooperation, and issues of contemporary slavery.
Crew has published extensively in the areas of African American and Public History.  Among his publications are Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration 1915 - 1940 (1987), and Black Life in Secondary Cities: A Comparative Analysis of the Black Communities of Camden and Elizabeth, N.J. 1860 - 1920 (1993). He co-authored The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden (2002), Unchained Memories: Readings From The Slave Narratives (2002), Slave Culture: A Documentary Collection of the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project (2014), and Memories of the Enslaved: Voices from the Slave Narratives (2015).
Crew is an active member of the academic and cultural communities, serving on many boards that work to generate enthusiasm for history among the public. He is the Past Chair of the National Council for History Education, Trustee Emeritus of the Board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and served on the Nominating Board of the Organization of American Historians and the Board of the American Association of Museums.   
He is a graduate of Brown University and holds a master's degree and a doctorate from Rutgers University. He is a member of the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Smithsonian Regents Name Lonnie Bunch 14th Smithsonian Secretary

The Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents elected Lonnie G. Bunch III, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, as the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian, effective June 16.

Bunch is the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in September 2016. He oversees the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history.

Bunch’s election is unprecedented for the Smithsonian: He will be the first African American to lead the Smithsonian, and the first historian elected Secretary. In addition, he will be the first museum director to ascend to Secretary in 74 years.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Smithsonian Appoints Curator and Archivist for African-American Art

Erin J. Gilbert
The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art has named two new appointees to positions related to African-American art: Erin J. Gilbert as curator of African-American manuscripts and Rayna Andrews as archivist for the institution’s African American Collecting Initiative.
Gilbert, an independent curator with experience in various departments of Chicago’s Kruger Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York, will be charged with developing “a strategy for substantially increasing the collections of papers of and about African-American artists and will travel nationally to acquire collections,” according to an announcement.
Andrews, previously an archivist at the University of Pennsylvania and Bryn Mawr College, will catalogue the collection and new acquisitions. Together, work by
Rayna Andrews
Gilbert and Andrews “will result in the creation of online finding aids for scores of the Archives’ collections on African American art,” the Smithsonian’s statement said. “These finding aids will greatly increase access and usability of the collections and will serve as critical resources for those performing research in the field.”

The three-year African American Collecting Initiative was launched last year with a $575,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to “build upon the Archives’ existing collections by and about African American artists.”
Both positions add to an Archives of American Art initiative that was founded in 1954.


Monday, October 16, 2017

National Portrait Gallery Announces Artists Commissioned to Paint Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced today that it has commissioned the museum’s official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. Artist Kehinde Wiley—best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African Americans—will create the portrait of President Obama. Amy Sherald, first-prize winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, has been chosen to paint Mrs. Obama. The two portraits will be unveiled at the museum in early 2018 and will be added to the Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
Over the course of his career, Wiley (b. Los Angeles, 1977), whom President Obama selected, has frequently portrayed young African American men wearing the latest in hip-hop street fashion. His rich, highly saturated color palette and his use of decorative patterns complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses. The theatrical poses and props Wiley assigns to his subjects make references to iconic portraits of powerful figures by Western artists.
Sherald (b. Columbus, Ga., 1973), who is based in Baltimore, was selected by Mrs. Obama to paint her portrait. Sherald challenges stereotypes and probes notions of identity through her life-size paintings of African Americans. Out of more than 2,500 entries, Sherald’s oil painting “Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance)” won first place in the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Along with the exhibition that showcases all of the winning portraits, the first-place prize includes the opportunity to create a portrait of a living individual for the museum’s permanent collection.
“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former President and First Lady,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”
At the end of each presidency, the museum partners with the White House to commission one official portrait of the President and one of his spouse. There are two sets of official portraits: one for the White House and one for the National Portrait Gallery. The museum began to commission Presidents’ portraits with George H.W. Bush.
The Portrait Gallery is continuing to raise private funds for the two commissioned portraits, the unveiling event, educational programs and an enhanced website. The museum is the only place outside the White House where visitors can view a complete collection of presidential portraits.
This past March, the Portrait Gallery installed a portrait diptych of President Obama by Chuck Close (2013) as part of the temporary “America’s Presidents” installation, which was on view until the updated version of the exhibition opened in September. The photographs by Close will remain on view until Obama’s official painted portrait is installed.

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.
The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Connect with the museum at its website (, FacebookInstagramTwitterYouTubeand the museum’s blog.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

LeBron James contributes $2.5 million to Smithsonian Muhammad Ali display

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture announced today that LeBron James will give $2.5 million to support the museum and its presentation titled “Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change.” On view since the museum’s September opening, it tells the story of how Ali’s contributions transcended the world of sport—his commitment to challenging racial barriers helped lay the groundwork for the successful careers of so many African Americans in athletics and beyond.

James’ business partner Maverick Carter will also be part of the $2.5 million contribution to the Ali exhibit. With this gift, the LeBron James Family Foundation and Carter will join the list of founding donors for NMAAHC.

“Every professional athlete, regardless of race and gender, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Muhammad Ali,” James said. “His legacy deserves to be studied and revered by every generation. I am honored to partner with the Smithsonian to celebrate one of the most influential figures in our nation’s history who, along with Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens, used the power of sports to advance our civil rights.”

“I am overwhelmed by the incredible generosity LeBron James has shown to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and to Muhammad’s legacy,” said Lonnie Ali, Ali’s widow. “This exhibit will enable children visiting the Smithsonian to learn more about Muhammad’s work outside of the ring, particularly his humanitarian work and stance on social justice for all people. Thank you to LeBron James and the Smithsonian for making this possible. I know that if Muhammad was alive today he would be honored.”


Saturday, October 01, 2016

Carnival Corporation to Donate $2 Million to the National Museum of African American History & Culture

Carnival Corporation, through its philanthropic arm, Carnival Foundation, is donating $2 million to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History & Culture.  Eleven years in the making and built at a cost of $540 million, the museum opened Sept. 24 on the National Mall with a dedication ceremony featuring remarks by President Barack Obama and a three-day music and spoken-word festival called "Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration." In recognition of the gift, NMAAHC has designated Carnival Corporation a Founding Donor of the museum.
"The National Museum of African American History & Culture is a celebration of the many contributions African Americans have made to the history, culture and community of the United States," said Linda Coll, executive director of Carnival Foundation. "The organizations that Carnival Corporation supports through Carnival Foundation reflect the great value the company places on diversity and inclusion in the communities that we touch, and we are honored to be a part of this new museum."
The 390,000-square-foot National Museum of African American History & Culture is located on a 5-acre site adjacent to the Washington Monument. Its 12 inaugural exhibitions feature more than 3,000 objects and cover topics ranging from military and sports history to performing arts and the western and northern migration.   
Each day of the three-day "Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration" had a theme: Friday was "Homecoming," Saturday was "Celebration" and Sunday was "Call and Response." The events and concerts highlighted music traditions such as jazz, R&B, gospel, folk, classical, New Orleans brass band, Afro-Latin jazz and hip-hop.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Grand Opening Schedule for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Here is the schedule for the weekend long grand opening celebration for the National Museum of African American History and Culture beginning September 23, 2016.

On September 6th at 9:00 a.m. EDT, additional Timed Entry Passes for Grand Opening Weekend Saturday, September 24th and Sunday, September 25th, will be made available. The Museum will also offer Timed Passes for extended hours Monday, September 26th through Sunday, October 2nd. Timed Passes for the months of November and December will also be released Tuesday. Learn more about the timed passes and purchase them here:




Grand Opening Schedule

Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration

Washington Monument Grounds

Friday, September 23, 2016, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 24, 2016, 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Sunday, September 25, 2016, 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Beginning Friday, September 23, 2016, on the Washington Monument grounds, the National Museum of African American History and Culture presents Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration. Conceived and presented in festival fashion, Freedom Sounds programming will include musical performances, spoken word, oral history activities and evening concerts. A drum circle, storytelling, and interactive workshops provide opportunities for families and large groups of the public to explore and celebrate the museum’s rich content and stories. This three-day music festival presents artists who represent the numerous cultural threads encompassing our shared African diasporic histories and traditions. Two tented stages will offer local, national and international performers, contributing to NMAAHC’s Grand Opening Weekend. The Freedom Sounds festival continues on Saturday and closes the Grand Opening Weekend on Sunday evening, September 25, 2016. Designed to accommodate the crowds anticipated; the festival is free and open to the public.

Dedication Ceremony

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Saturday, September 24, 2016

9:00 a.m. Gathering and Musical Prelude

10:00 a.m. Dedication Ceremony Begins

On Saturday, September 24, 2016, the public witnesses the outdoor Dedication Ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In the afternoon, the museum officially opens to the public. Tickets are not required for the public to view the outdoor Dedication Ceremony. Extensive large-screen viewing areas are well-positioned for crowds during the Dedication Ceremony.

Museum Opens to the Public

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Saturday, September 24, 2016, 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, September 25, 2016, 7:00 a.m. – Midnight

The Museum officially opens to the public at 2pm, following the Dedication Ceremony on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The museum will keep its doors open for extended hours Sunday, September 25, from 10 a.m. to Midnight.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Hartford Sponsors Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History And Culture

The Hartford announced its founding sponsorship of the Smithsonian’s newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, NMAAHC. The company made a $1 million contribution over five years to support the design and construction of the building, scheduled to open Sept. 24 in Washington D.C.

“The Hartford has been a part of American history for more than 200 years, growing, thriving and changing along with our nation,” said Susan Johnson, head of diversity and inclusion at The Hartford. “We are proud to be a founding sponsor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and celebrate the important contributions of African Americans to the American Dream.”

Friday, February 05, 2016

Smithsonian opening African-American history museum Sept. 24, 2016

UPDATES: Grand Opening Schedule for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Denzel Washington Event Raises Millions For African American Museum

The Smithsonian Institution will open the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Sept. 24 in Washington.

Smithsonian chief spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said Monday that President Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, will lead the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

St. Thomas says a weeklong celebration will follow, including an outdoor festival and a period in which the museum on the National Mall will be open for 24 consecutive hours.

The museum has built a collection of 11 exhibits to trace the history of slavery, segregation, civil rights and African-Americans' achievements in the arts, entertainment, sports, the military and the wider culture.

Artifacts on loan from other institutions will also be on display, such as two documents signed by President Abraham Lincoln: the 13th Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Historic Black Church Donates $1M to Smithsonian's African-American History Museum

A historic black church based in Virginia has pledged to donate $1 million to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Alfred Street Baptist Church, a historically black congregation in Alexandria that traces its history back to the early 1800s, has announced their donation for the educational institute.

"ASBC has always been a leader in community outreach and missions within the faith-based community," said the Rev. Howard-John Wesley, lead pastor of Alfred Street Baptist, in comments to The Christian Post on Monday. Wesley added that this was the first time a faith-based organization had donated $1 million to the Smithsonian.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bill Cosby to loan art collection to Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

[SOURCE] After amassing a private collection of African-American Art over four decades, Bill Cosby and his wife Camille plan to showcase their holdings for the first time in an exhibition planned at the Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art announced Monday that the entire Cosby collection will go on view in November in a unique exhibit juxtaposing African-American art with African art.

The collection, which will be loaned to the museum, includes works by such leading African-American artists as Beauford Delaney, Faith Ringgold, Jacob Lawrence, Augusta Savage and Henry Ossawa Tanner. The Cosby collection of more than 300 African-American paintings, prints, sculptures and drawings has never been loaned or seen publicly, except for one work of art.

"It's so important to show art by African-American artists in this exhibition," Cosby said in a written statement. "To me, it's a way for people to see what exists and to give voice to many of these artists who were silenced for so long, some of whom will speak no more."