Smithsonian previews African American Museum collections

The Smithsonian Museum previews collections destined for the Museum of African-American History and Culture, which is slated to open in 2016.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, (MAY 7, 2015) (REUTERS) – The Smithsonian Museum of American History on Thursday (May 7) offered a sneak preview of an exhibit devoted to the African American experience that will eventually become part of the Smithsonian’s new national Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which is expected to open in the Fall of 2016.

The new museum will be devoted to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture.

The preview exhibit included items depicting slavery and freedom, segregation, military service, sports, music, cultural expressions and visual arts.

Called “Through the African American Lens”, The Museum of American History exhibit will open to the public on May 8 just across the street from the future location of the NMAAHC.

The NMAAHC currently has holdings of more than 33,000 artifacts including items from slavery, Reconstruction, the civil rights era, two world wars as well as the Harlem Renaissance and contemporary art, music and culture.

Museum Curator Jacquelyn Days Server says the current exhibit gives just a small sampling of what will be on display at the new museum next fall.

“It gives you a sweep of the categories and material that people will see when they open the museum. We wanted to whet their appetites and give them an idea of the spectrum of what we’re doing” Server said.

She said African American history is an important part of American history.

“The overarching idea is that this is not a separate history, we are telling American history, we’re simply telling it through the lens of the African-American experience.”

The museum is located on a five acre site between the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

George W. Bush signed legislation to establish the NMAAHC in 2003 and construction began in February of 2013.

The building design, by Ghanaian-born architect David Adjaye, is patterned after an African headdress called a corona.