Smithsonian’s Center for Environmental Justice at the Anacostia Community Museum Launches on Earth Day

April 7, 2023
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Center for Environmental Justice at the Anacostia Community Museum

The Smithsonian’s Center for Environmental Justice at the Anacostia Community Museum launches on Earth Day, April 22. The center seeks to create a future in which environmentalism is a cornerstone of civic engagement through which residents contribute to the development of healthy, equitable communities. The center encourages a humanities-led framework that places traditional scientific research and data in the context of daily life. Center staff will organize symposiums, panels, fellowships and an Environmental Justice Academy that will engage young people living in the region, as well as continue the work of well-known programs like “Growing Community,” the long-standing community gardening program.

“One of the Anacostia Community Museum’s first exhibitions, ‘Rat: Man’s Invited Affliction,’ not only changed the course and mission of the museum in 1969, but it began the trajectory of environmental justice work at the Smithsonian,” said Ellen Stofan, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Science and Research. “From the Urban Waterways program that began in 2010 to the onsite community garden programming, this work has been at the center of this Smithsonian museum for over five decades.”

To celebrate the opening of the center this year, the museum’s theme for 2023 is “Our Environment, Our Future,” in which the museum is examining the topic of environmental justice in the Washington metropolitan area using the lens of race and gender. This theme deepens the museum’s existing work in pioneering community-centered practices and critical environmental justice conversations. 

“The Center for Environmental Justice is the culmination of over 55 years of the museum’s work in and with the Anacostia community,” said Melanie Adams, the Roger Ferguson and Annette Nazareth Director of the Anacostia Community Museum. “The conversations we’ve had and research that we’ve done has shown through in our exhibits, public programs, panel discussions and summits. This center is the next step in the work that our museum is doing to ensure environmental justice not just for our community, but we hope it can serve as a guide for other communities as well.”

The Center for Environmental Justice is supported by Amazon. 

“We admire the Anacostia Community Museum’s mission of collective power and history of environmental justice work to serve as a catalyst for social change, and appreciate their work educating our community about the environment with a deep focus on equity and civic engagement,” said Patrick Phillippi, Amazon’s head of community engagement in the greater Washington region. “At Amazon, we’re committed to building a more sustainable business for our employees, customers and communities. That starts right here at a community level.”

The new center is also a part of Life on a Sustainable Planet, the Smithsonian’s initiative to collect new data about the changing planet, implement holistic approaches to environmental conservation and educate the world about why and how sustainable solutions to climate change can benefit people and nature. Life on a Sustainable Planet uses the Institution’s vast scientific resources across its global network of research centers to produce, curate and communicate strategies for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The Institution will also pioneer new technologies to collect environmental data, develop new platforms to analyze and share data and work with partners and communities to inform conservation action. Life on a Sustainable Planet is part of the Smithsonian’s commitment to working with communities to promote equitable, sustainable and resilient ecosystem solutions to build a more sustainable future for all.

About the Museum

Founded in 1967, the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum shares the untold and often overlooked stories of communities furthest from justice in the greater Washington, D.C., region. In celebrating stories of resiliency, joy and strength, the museum inspires those who visit to translate their ideas into action. For more information about the museum, visit or follow the museum on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

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Amy Kehs


Ben Marcus

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