Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art Hosts “Health, Hair, and Heritage”

A Dynamic Dialogue on Hair, Beauty with Leading Experts
May 22, 2013
News Release

Addthis Share Tools

Johnnetta Betsch Cole

The Sanaa Circle, a friends group of the National Museum of African Art, will present a panel discussion in support of the museum in the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center Pavilion, Friday, June 7, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.; it is free and open to the public. The panelists are experts from the fields of beauty, art, culture and history who will discuss contemporary hair, health and beauty in reference to the heritage and history of Africa. The discussion will be moderated by Diana N’Diaye, who is the principal investigator and curator of The Will to Adorn initiative at the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The project is one of the three themes of the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and it looks at identity and how it is reflected in African American dress. N’Diaye is also a jewelry and dress designer.

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art, will begin the evening with opening remarks. A reception will follow with hair models featuring images of contemporary beauty and styles by natural hair stylist and cosmetologist Camille Robbins-Reed. The panelists will be available for additional conversation during the reception.

Panelists include:

  • Dr. Monte Harris, a Sanaa committee member and internationally recognized plastic surgeon, lectures and leads discussions on the role of hair in an individual’s perceptions of beauty and identity. As the leader of the Center for Aesthetic Modernism and Do Good H.A.I.R. Project, Harris provides comprehensive health guidance for women seeking to achieve personal beauty that aligns with their ancestral heritage.

  • Karen Milbourne has been a curator at the National Museum of African Art since May 2008. Her expertise includes the arts and pageantry of western Zambia and contemporary African art. Since joining the museum, she has curated the exhibitions “Artists in Dialogue: António Ole and Aimé Mpane” (2009) and “Artists in Dialogue 2: Sandile Zulu and Henrique Oliveira” (2011). She also served as coordinating curator for the exhibitions “Yinka Shonibare MBE” (2010) and “Central Nigeria Unmasked” (2011).

  • Gina Paige is president and co-founder of, the nation’s leading genetics-based people ancestry-tracing company, sparking global interest, dialogue and focus on the importance of people knowing who they are.


Support for “Hair, Health, and Heritage” comes from BET networks, Kamal Ali at Ben’s Chili Bowl, Anacostia Art Gallery, Larry Atkins, Beverley Burke, J.R. Clark of Squire Saunders, Donnette Cooper, Audra Cunningham, Thomas Dawson, Do Good H.A.I.R. Project, Monte Harris, Barbara Johnson, Leftwich & Ludaway, Lucia Riddle, Squire Saunders and Ben Soto & Premium Title LLC.

About the Sanaa Circle

The Sanaa Circle started in 2009 to support and enhance the learning and outreach programs offered to the community by the National Museum of African Art. It has focused on providing financial support and building a full community of supporters for the museum to further the mission of the museum. Sanaa plays a fundamental role in connecting the museum to the greater Washington, D.C., community. The support of the women and men of Sanaa helps the museum to achieve its current programming while laying the foundation for ambitious future goals and increasing membership for the museum.

About the National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is America’s only museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about this exhibition, call (202) 633-4600 or visit the museum’s website at For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.

Note: To arrange an interview with the artists or for selected high-resolution images, contact Eddie Burke at (202) 633-4660 or

# # #