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Exterior of the museum

Anacostia Community Museum

The Anacostia Community Museum is located in DC and is dedicated to serving the community. It promotes the coming together of diverse people and perspectives to learn from, empower and uplift one another to create a more tolerant, unified metropolitan community. The exhibitions in this Museum are always updating and changing. “Your community. Your Story.”

Founded as the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum and opened in 1967, the Anacostia Community Museum was envisioned by S. Dillon Ripley, then-Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, as an outreach effort by the Smithsonian to the local African American community.the museum has remained relevant, developing documentation projects, exhibitions, and programs which speak to the concerns, issues, and triumphs of communities and which tell the extraordinary stories of everyday people.

The Anacostia Community Museum is accessible to all.

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Image Credit: Ted Eytan / flickr

History

Founded as the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum and opened in 1967, it was envisioned as an outreach effort by the Smithsonian to the local African American community. 

Following the inaugural exhibition, which was an eclectic mix of art and artifacts from other Smithsonian museums, local residents and museum advisory board members expressed a desire to have a museum that was relevant to their experiences and history. Therefore, a slate of exhibitions and public programs focused on African American history, community issues, local history, and the arts was developed. The museum made a strong connection with local school teachers to engage with the museum in program development. Additionally, the museum established a hands-on children’s room and convened a youth advisory council. This work established the museum as a model for community museums and a principal force in the African American museum movement.

Beginning in the 1980s the exhibition program turned to broader national themes in African American history and culture with a focus on preservation of that history. In 1994, the museum developed the documentation and exhibition project entitled Black Mosaic: Community, Race and Ethnicity Among Black Immigrants in Washington. This groundbreaking exhibition, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2014, revealed the transformation of communities in Washington, DC, impacted by new immigration to the city.

In 1999, the museum formalized its commitment to local school children by establishing the Museum Academy, a program that continues to provided afterschool and summer programming, utilizing a museum-based curriculum, for 40 children in Washington's Ward 7 and Ward 8 neighborhoods.

In 2006 the museum's name was changed to Anacostia Community Museum, reflecting a renewed commitment to examining issues of impact to contemporary urban communities.

Throughout its storied history of over 50 years, the museum has remained relevant, developing documentation projects, exhibitions, and programs which speak to the concerns, issues, and triumphs of communities and which tell the extraordinary stories of everyday people.

Text abive adapted from: anacostia.si.edu/About/History

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Last updated: November 10, 2020
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