National Museum of African American History and Culture
1400 Constitution Ave., NW
2nd Floor, National Museum of African American History and Culture Library Floor Plan
Eleven objects—books, videos, and more—significant to the African American story are featured in this exhibition of highlights from the National Museum of African American History and Culture Library, part of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. They span over a hundred years and a variety of formats—from an 1886 biography of Harriet Tubman to a 2009 artists’ book celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Librarian and exhibition curator Shauna Collier was inspired in part by the impact the shift to remote work had on the library at the height of the pandemic: during online presentations and virtual trainings, these were some of the materials she referenced most and missed sharing with researchers in person. Each has an important story to tell.
The selections also highlight the contributions of donors to the library: ten of the eleven featured items were donated to the collection. For example, Oscar Micheaux’s The Story of Dorothy Stanfield (1946) was the gift of film historian and director Pearl Bowser. The Mind of the Negro (1926) by Carter Woodson was a gift from Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch when he was the museum’s inaugural director.
The exhibition uses the Hi App, an innovative tool that enables visitors to dig deeper and connect to related digital content, including Smithsonian museum collections, in-depth blog posts, and digitized books.