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On the 10th anniversary of its historic groundbreaking on the National Mall, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has launched an ambitious campaign to ensure the future of the museum for generations to come. By 2024, the museum seeks to raise $350 million to support research, ongoing programs, digital initiatives and the creation of an endowment fund. As the largest African American museum in the country, it is responsible for caring for more than 40,000 objects and 400,000 square feet of exhibition space to ensure the African American story—living history—is preserved.
“Right now, it is more important than ever to support the museum in this deep conversation about the African American experience, the place of African American culture and our understanding of what it means to be an American,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
More than 100 years since Black Civil War veterans lobbied for a place on the National Mall, the museum opened to the public in 2016. Since then, the museum has hosted more than 7.8 million visitors and 21 million virtual visitors to its website. Through the Living History campaign and expanded technologies, the museum hopes to reach every corner of the digital world, reexamining the past and connecting history to the issues of today. This effort is part of a planned Smithsonian Campaign led by Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch, which will secure funds for all Smithsonian museums and centers to expand their work in areas that affect everyone, such as conservation, equity and access to education.
“It’s essential that the full story of America be told to our country—and what better place to share this story than here in the nation’s capital as part of the Smithsonian,” said LaTanya Jackson, Living History campaign co-chair. “And now, with all the possibilities of digital and online technologies, it is a story we can share with the world. This museum informs, inspires and transforms—we need that energy in the world today.”
To ensure the African American story is preserved for generations, the Living History campaign aims to support the following:
Social Justice Initiatives
- African Americans have fought and continue to fight oppression and discrimination. Through this campaign, the museum will continue to reexamine the past and connect history to issues today by expanding essential social justice content and programming.
Scholarship and Research
- The museum is entrusted with telling the full story of the African American experience. The Living History campaign will enable the museum to devote resources to shaping the conversation about African American history and its impact today.
Acquisition and Collections Care
- The Living History campaign will provide resources to collect more of the African American narrative and share content through enriched exhibitions, programs and educational resources.
- Through this campaign, the museum will support its responsibility to collect and humanize history and objects through the lives, tragedies and triumphs of everyday people.
- The campaign will invest in the museum’s innovative digital initiatives and virtual programming. The museum seeks to revolutionize and radically expand its reach by engaging every classroom, household and handheld device.
Community and Collaboration
- The museum documents a people’s journey, and those stories are based in community. This campaign will provide additional resources to increase partnerships with educational and community organizations to deepen the connections and understanding of the whole African American experience.
Although the museum receives annual federal support as part of the Smithsonian Institution, that funding only covers a portion of the museum’s annual operating budget. Through this campaign, the museum will establish an endowment on par with comparable cultural institutions to support its world-class collection, scholarship and research.
To learn more about the Living History campaign and the museum’s latest efforts, visit https://nmaahc.si.edu/livinghistory.
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 more than 7.5 million in-person visitors and millions more through its digital presence. 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 nmaahc.si.edu and follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.
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