Photos: Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
(Washington, DC) In 1962 The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery was established by an act of Congress as a “free public museum…depicting men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development and culture…of the United States.” The Portrait Gallery opened to the public in 1968.
“One Year: 1968 An American Odyssey” celebrates the museum’s 50th anniversary in a one-room exhibition and is comprised of 30 objects including “photographs, paintings, drawings and magazines that highlight a time when Americans were questioning issues of leadership, citizenship and nationhood.” This temporary exhibition is on display through May 19, 2019
Image 1: Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown by James Hinton, Jr
Image 2: Jimi Hendrix by unidentified artist; Image 3: Eldridge Cleaver by Stephen Shames
Image 4: Resurrection City in Washington DC by Oliver Atkins
Photo by Sophia V. Nelson/The Merging Lanes Project
Meet Mary Dennard-Turner, part of the Maryland Park Service staff at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center located in Church Creek (Dorchester County) Maryland.
An area native. For several years she has been an active member of the local heritage preservation society. She was retired when the Maryland Park Service approached her to work as a greeter at the visitor center. She said when she retired as a corrections officer she told herself she’d never wear another uniform again. Yet, there she was, complemented by that beautiful white, green and red Maryland Park Service seal; one of the first faces to greet a few groups and I when we entered the visitor center on Tuesday.
She shared she had just crossed over the 1 year mark as a seasonal employee and is enjoying herself.
More on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center to come.
“The Cutting Edge of Public History: New Directions in Interpretation” Conference got its start at the National Museum of American History.
Pictured is an exhibit, commemorating the Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-Ins. In photograph 2, you may notice that the mirror which also doubles as a media player, captures the reflection of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Out of 120,000 square feet in the American History Museum, the lunch counter and accompanying mirror managed to find itself in a space that incorporates neighboring building National Museum of African American History and Culture in its narrative.
Do you think this was strategic exhibit planning or coincidence?
This photo, shot by photographer Jeff Elkins, is of historian and author Al-Tony Gilmore. He is standing in front of event posters that he found in an Ohio junk shop. Gilmore has curated an invitation only museum dedicated to African American history.
Over the past few decades he has collected and filled his Bethesda Maryland home with over 7000 one of a kind treasures including “vintage movie posters, and important correspondence from black politicians and public figures.”
“A 2017 national survey report by the American Alliance of Museums reveals that whites hold 84 percent of curator, conservator, educator and other leadership positions in American museums. These jobs are critical; individuals with such titles build the collections and determine the topics of the exhibits and programs that are the central activities of cultural institutions….”
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s, U.S. Rep. Cardiss Collins, D-Ill., the first African-American woman to represent the Midwest in Congress, focused her attention on the ‘minority employment in senior-level managerial positions’ within museums in major American cities.”
Things to do (Virginia) Freedom House Museum || There were about 30 visitors waiting for the 2:30 pm tour. I lucked up, the family standing in line ahead of me had an extra ticket (Thanks Tahima).
Apparently there is quite a demand to tour this particular museum. As one resident shared, “I live in Alexandria and the museum is never open.” An emailed response that I received earlier this week stated the museum will provide guided tours on Saturdays only, from now through to the end of February.
Public History is an interdisciplinary practice. Pictured is an exhibit panel which details University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC) School of Architecture’s contribution to the Freedom House Museum. UDC is an HBCU located in Washington DC. Students were responsible for recreating the slave pen model pictured in the 2nd photo.
Pictured is F. Elliott and another museum goer. Here, Elliott shares that he too picked cotton. In the 60s, in North Carolina he helped his mother perform the task. During that time it was his mother’s primary source of income. He eventually migrated to Maryland and is now a public school teacher. F. Elliott is in the process of writing a book titled “A Way Out” which will detail his days working in North Carolina’s cotton fields, to his time as an educator.
This is an example of the opportunity that museum’s provide for visitors to engage in discourse with various demographics. It also allows for one to identify personal connections to the history that has been interpreted
The Freedom House Museum made use of various mediums to engage visitors. Some of which include video displays, interpretive panels and artifacts. Pictured are a few artifacts currently on display. One of which is a stereoscope. The stereoscope was used as a form of entertainment in the early 19th century. It was also a means to distribute and display images captured in places across the nation. The slides displayed in pictures 2 and 3 are described as a “Georgia Cotton Field”
Archeologist, Pam Cressey shared that the state of Virginia requires that an archaeological dig is performed anytime any major infrastructure changes are made to a property. She assisted with the archaeological dig performed at The Freedom House Museum. When asked if the Civil war artifacts on display had been recovered from that dig she expressed that she wasn’t entirely sure but there is a possibility that they had been.