Tag: Smithsonian

Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, to Become New Secretary of Smithsonian

Lonnie G. Bunch, III, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, moderates a panel on the “Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement: Views from the Front Line” at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library. (Photo by Lauren Gerson via commons.wikipedia.org)

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), was appointed the new Secretary of the Smithsonian on Tuesday. According to dcist.com, Bunch is the fourteenth person to hold the position in the Smithsonian’s 173-year history, and the first African American.

As Secretary, Bunch will manage the administration of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, 21 libraries, and the National Zoo. He is also responsible for its $1.5 billion annual budget. Bunch succeeds David J. Skorton, who announced his resignation in December.

“Lonnie has spent 29 years of his life dedicated to the Smithsonian, so he knows the institution inside and out,” said David Rubenstein, the chair of the Smithsonian Board of Regents on Tuesday. The Board met at the Supreme Court earlier in the day unanimously elected Bunch as Secretary.

“He’s also highly regarded by members of Congress and highly respected by our donor base,” Rubenstein added, while also citing Bunch’s “incredible character” and his leadership of the NMAAHC as major assets.

“You’re going to make a historian cry,” Bunch said when he spoke at Tuesday’s press conference. “This is an emotional moment, because the Smithsonian means so much to me personally and professionally.”

Bunch was the first curator for the California African American Museum in Los Angeles in the 1980s and previously served as president and director of the Chicago History Museum from 2000 to 2005. In 2005, Bunch came to the Smithsonian to steward NMAAHC from conception. He shepherded both the David Adjaye-designed structure, did tireless fundraising, and helped build up and curate the museum’s collection from scratch.

The museum has been such a huge success that tickets are still largely required more than two years after opening, with visitors staying for hours longer than at other facilities. In its first year of operation, NMAAHC welcomed nearly 2.4 million visitors and was the fourth-most visited Smithsonian institution.

“It tells the unvarnished truth,” Bunch told DCist on the one-year anniversary of the museum’s opening. “I think there are people who were stunned that a federal institution could tell the story with complexity, with truth, with tragedy, and sometimes resilience.”

Over his tenure, Bunch and his team of curators made it a point to continue building a collection for the museum’s future, including acquiring artifacts from the Black Lives Matter movement, and to integrate D.C.’s own rich history into the fabric of the museum.

Read more: https://dcist.com/story/19/05/28/the-smithsonians-next-secretary-will-be-lonnie-bunch-the-head-of-the-african-american-history-museum/

Artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to Paint Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama for Smithsonian

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama (photo via artnews.com)

by  via artnews.com

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. has commissioned Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to paint Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits, respectively, the Wall Street Journal reports. Both portraits will be unveiled next year when they are added to the museum’s collection.

Wiley is known for Old Masters–style portraits of contemporary black sitters. He has occasionally discussed the positive impact Barack Obama’s presidency had on artists creating images of non-white sitters. “The reality of Barack Obama being the president of the United States—quite possibly the most powerful nation in the world—means that the image of power is completely new for an entire generation of not only black American kids, but every population group in this nation,” he told BBC News in 2012.

The Baltimore-based Amy Sherald, who paints minimalist pictures of black Americans is less well-known than Wiley. She has had two shows with Monique Meloche Gallery, and next year will have a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Source: Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to Paint Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama | ARTnews

NFL QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick to have Memorabilia Featured at National Museum of African American History and Culture

Colin Kaepernick (photo via Getty Images)

by thegrio.com

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is already looking to include Colin Kaepernick in it halls. Director Lonnie Bunch reached out to sociologist Harry Edwards as the museum was being developed, and Edwards was part of the game-changers exhibit featuring famous black sports stars and their impact on the world. To that end, Edwards recently donated a collection of Kaepernick’s memorabilia to the museum, suggesting that they should put up an exhibit featuring Kaepernick sooner than later.

“I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,’ ” Edwards told USA TODAY Sports. “ ‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.’ ”

Kaepernick was rocketed to nationwide attention when he decided to take a knee during he national anthem in protest of the state of race relations in the United States, a decision that prompted a wave of similar protests across the country.

To read more, go to: Colin Kaepernick memorabilia to be featured at the Smithsonian | theGrio

LeBron James Donates $2.5 Million for Muhammad Ali Exhibit at National Museum of African American History & Culture

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James (DAVID LIAM KYLE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

 article via huffingtonpost.com

LeBron James is donating $2.5 million to support a Muhammad Ali exhibit at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the basketball star and the museum announced on Thursday.

The Cleveland Cavaliers forward said he was a longtime fan of Ali, one of the most beloved sports figures in history, who died on June 3 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s syndrome.  “Every professional athlete, regardless of race and gender, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Muhammad Ali,” James said in a statement. “His legacy deserves to be studied and revered by every generation.”

The “Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change” exhibit features items from the late boxer, including a training robe worn at Dundee’s Fifth Street Gym in Miami. While the exhibit details Ali’s sports journey, it also highlights his community activism, spirituality and politics.

“We are extremely grateful to LeBron James,” said Damion Thomas, curator of the museum’s Sports Gallery. “As the most socially active superstar in sports today, LeBron James is a testament to the influence of Muhammad Ali (who) embodied the racial and social tumult of his times, blurring lines between politics and sports, activism and entertainment.”

James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, is also contributing to the exhibit, which has been on display since the museum opened on Sept. 24.

The funds will also support the museum itself, which is located on the National Mall.

To read more, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lebron-james-donates-25-million-muhammad-ali-exhibit_us_582dd99ae4b058ce7aa98273?

National Museum of African-American History and Culture is Sold Out Through March 2017!

Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC)

article via eurweb.com

To say the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is on everybody’s bucket list is an understatement. Put it like this. If you were planning to visit the new museum, unfortunately you’re going to have to wait until 2017.

Yep, it’s that popular. The museum has sold out tickets through March of 2017. Admission is free, but date-specific tickets are required for entry.

The museum opened in Washington, D.C. in September, and officials initially expected around 7,000 visitors per day.  Nearly 30,000 people visit the museum daily.

There are only two ways you can gain entry:  Go to the museum website and try to obtain a 2017 pass or line up outside the museum to try for a “day of” pass.

To read full article, go to: New African-American Museum is Sold Out Thru March, 2017!

Donations to National Museum of African American History and Culture to be Matched by Giving Day Sponsor Hyundai on 9/13 #GiveNMAAHC

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief

In anticipation of its opening on September 24, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has launched a one-day giving campaign today, September 13th, to celebrate this momentous milestone for our nation and the African American community and to help ensure our future for all who follow.

We at GBN donated and signed up to aid this Giving Day effort, and will be posting and tweeting intermittently to help raise awareness and donations for NMAAHC.  If you’d also like to go beyond donating, you too can sign up to become a Giving Day Champion in celebration of a museum that tells a more complete story of America.

Simply click the link above to join and reach out to your network of friends and share the story of this amazing Museum. NMAAHC provides all the tools you need to spread the word about the Museum and this giving opportunity.

Thank you and let’s continue to share this amazing story of the African American experience with our nation and the world for generations to come.

To donate now, click here: https://givenmaahc.org/?utm_source=nmaahc.linkfast.com_donate_button&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=giveNMAAHC_2016_SF

FEATURE: How the Decades-Long Fight for a National African-American Museum Was Won

The museum, foreground, was designed by David Adjaye and sits on the National Mall near the Washington Monument, right. (MATT ROTH FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)
The museum, foreground, was designed by David Adjaye and sits on the National Mall near the Washington Monument, right. (MATT ROTH FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

article by Graham Bowley via nytimes.com

Eleven years ago, Lonnie G. Bunch III was a museum director with no museum.  No land. No building. Not even a collection.

He had been appointed to lead the nascent National Museum of African American History and Culture. The concept had survived a bruising, racially charged congressional battle that stretched back decades and finally ended in 2003 when President George W. Bush authorized a national museum dedicated to the African-American experience.

Now all Mr. Bunch and a team of colleagues had to do was find an unprecedented number of private donors willing to finance a public museum. They had to secure hundreds of millions of additional dollars from a Congress, Republican controlled, that had long fought the project.

And they had to counter efforts to locate the museum not at the center of Washington’s cultural landscape on the National Mall, but several blocks offstage.  “I knew it was going to be hard, but not how hard it was going to be,” Mr. Bunch, 63, said in an interview last month.

Visitors to the $540 million building, designed to resemble a three-tiered crown, will encounter the sweeping history of black America from the Middle Passage of slavery to the achievements and complexities of modern black life.

But also compelling is the story of how the museum itself came to be through a combination of negotiation, diplomacy, persistence and cunning political instincts.  The strategy included an approach that framed the museum as an institution for all Americans, one that depicted the black experience, as Mr. Bunch often puts it, as “the quintessential American story” of measured progress and remarkable achievement after an ugly period of painful oppression.

The tactics included the appointment of Republicans like Laura Bush and Colin L. Powell to the museum’s board to broaden bipartisan support beyond Democratic constituencies, and there were critical efforts to shape the thinking of essential political leaders.

After Congress authorized the new museum, the Smithsonian's Board of Regents considered four possible locations before choosing a site on the National Mall near the Washington Monument. (Source: Smithsonian Institution. By Anjali Singhvi, The New York Times)
After Congress authorized the new museum, the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents considered four possible locations before choosing a site on the National Mall near the Washington Monument. (Source: Smithsonian Institution. By Anjali Singhvi, The New York Times)

Long before its building was complete, for example, the museum staged exhibitions off-site, some on the fraught topics it would confront, such as Thomas Jefferson’s deep involvement with slavery. A Virginia delegation of congressional members was brought through for an early tour of the Jefferson exhibition, which featured a statue of him in front of a semicircular wall marked with 612 names of people he had owned.  “I remember being very impacted,” said Eric Cantor, then the House Republican leader, who was part of the delegation.

Mr. Bunch said that he hoped the Jefferson exhibition pre-empted criticism by establishing the museum’s bold but balanced approach to difficult material. “Some people were like, ‘How dare you equate Jefferson with slavery,’” he recalled. “But it means that people are going to say, ‘Of course, that is what they have to do.’”

And the museum began an exceptional effort to raise money from black donors, not only celebrities, like Michael Jordan ($5 million) and Oprah Winfrey ($12 million), but also churches, sororities and fraternities, which, Mr. Bunch said, had never been asked for big donations before. Continue reading “FEATURE: How the Decades-Long Fight for a National African-American Museum Was Won”

NBA Legend Michael Jordan Donates $5 Million to Smithsonian’s New African-American Museum

NBA Legend Michael Jordan (photo via biography.com)
NBA Legend Michael Jordan (photo via biography.com)

article via theurbandaily.com

Following his generous contributions of $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Michael Jordan is doing a lot more sharing these days.

According to reports, Jordan has donated $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum. Officials revealed that the gift is the largest from a sports figure to the 19th Smithsonian museum and pushes private donations to $278 million. Including federal aid, the museum, which President Obama will open in September, has raised more than $548 million.

The NBA legend said in a statement, “I am grateful for the opportunity to support this museum. I also am indebted to the historic contributions of community leaders and athletes such as Jesse Owens, whose talent, commitment and perseverance broke racial barriers and laid the groundwork for the successful careers of so many African Americans in athletics and beyond.”

Source: Michael Jordan Donates $5 Million To African-American Museum | The Urban Daily

Baptist Church in Virginia Pledges $1M to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

Alfred Street Baptist Church members
Alfred Street Pastor Howard-John Wesley with James McNeil, Board of Trustees, Chair and Pat Johnson, Deacon Chair

Alexandria, VA — In the final days of 2015, Alfred Street Baptist Church (ASBC), one of the nation’s oldest historically African American churches located in Alexandria, Virginia, announced that it is pledging to donate $1 million to the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

As such, the $1 million donation to the museum is the largest from a faith-based organization to date, thus allowing the church to be designated as a founding donor of the museum.

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2016 on the National Mall in Washington, DC adjacent to the Washington Monument, the museum will be a place where visitors can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to the lives of the American people, and how it helped shape this nation.

Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, the esteemed pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church said:

“We are very proud and honored to make this contribution to a museum that promises to contribute immensely to the knowledge base of African American history and culture.

This historic attraction will be an astounding and visionary force in our communities and lives for decades to come. More importantly, we as a church, understand the importance of learning about the accomplishments of African American people. Therefore, we realize that if we don’t tell and preserve our own history, our children will never know their real value.”

Accepting the donation on behalf of the Smithsonian’s NMAAHC was Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the museum, who said, “We are honored to have the support of Alfred Street Baptist Church, an institution that has generously served its community for more than 200 years and whose support will help ensure that the museum fulfills its mission to tell the American story through an African American lens.”

James McNeil, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alfred Street Baptist Church, continued:

“We are pleased to be the first faith-based organization to contribute $1 million to this magnificent cultural development. I challenge others in the faith-based community to follow suit to ensure that the history of African Americans will be celebrated and shared with everyone regardless of their background. The story of our country’s greatness cannot be told without sharing how we live and work together to help America thrive.”

Continue reading “Baptist Church in Virginia Pledges $1M to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture”

J Dilla Recording Equipment Headed to the Smithsonian

J Dilla Recording Equipment Headed to the Smithsonian

J Dilla was only 32 years old when he died in 2006, but in his too-short life, the prolific producer worked with hip-hop icons including Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, The Roots, De la Soul, Common, and A Tribe Called Quest, even earning a Grammy nomination for his work with Tribe. And now, another honor for the late Detroit beatmaker: His recording equipment will be featured in the Smithsonian.

At the ninth DC Loves Dilla tribute concert on Thursday night, Dilla’s mom, Maureen Yancey, announced onstage that she would donate her son’s custom Minamoog Voyager — one of the last synthesizers Bob Moog built for someone before he died in 2005 — and his MPC to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“I feel it’s necessary to raise the level of art appreciation in the hip-hop sector and honor my son James Dewitt Yancey, one of the most influential individuals in the history of hip-hop,” Dilla’s mom said in a Smithsonian press release announcing the donation.

Below, watch Yancey announce the donation at the benefit concert, which raises money to battle lupus, a disease that might have played a part in Dilla’s early death.

article by Katie Atkinson via billboard.com