In my first year as a Board Member of the Smithsonian Institution, the Washington, DC collection of 19 museums, research centers, and a zoo, I have learned more about presenting art and culture to the public, and the controversy that can sometimes arise. With 210 affiliates in more than 46 states, Puerto Rico and Panama, the Smithsonian is a rich repository of art works, antiquities, science and educational centers. Currently, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, a Smithsonian affiliate, is exhibiting The Grace Jones Project, exploring the art, music and cultural influence of the former model, now memoirist.
Smithsonian curators are highly respected: their opinions, their knowledge, and their scholarly accomplishments. I have visited eight of the 19 museums so far: The National Museum of African Art, The National Museum of the American Indian, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Freer Gallery of Art, The National Portrait Gallery, The National Museum of Natural History, The National Postal Museum, and the Hirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
On my last visit, I visited one of the affiliates, The Anacostia Community Museum, twenty minutes from downtown. Our Board was given a tour, and we entered the archives and viewed the fur coat worn by Marian Anderson when she sang at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Ms. Anderson had been denied to perform before an integrated audience at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In response, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her membership of that organization, and with her husband Franklin Roosevelt, invited Ms. Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial. Estimates of the audience were 75,000 in attendance and millions of radio listeners.
Click here for more info: Denied A Stage, She Sang For A Nation »
There are hundreds of public programs, educational initiatives, and diverse collections to experience in Washington, D.C., and across the nation. On September 24, 2016, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will open, “a place of meaning, of memory, of reflection, of laughter, and of hope, and using African American history and culture as a lens into what it means to be an American.”
Enjoy all museums, and let’s expand our appreciation of art and culture.
Photo: Real Justice – The Spirit of Thurgood Marshall by Allen UZIKEE Nelson