sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

July 18, 2017

a trip to the african american museum
posted by soe 12:51 am

My weekend began a little early on Friday because Sarah’s sister had extra tickets to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which remains so popular that you either need to reserve space months ahead or wait in line for a giveaway spot. Being lazy, I’d opted to do neither, figuring that sooner or later all hot spots die down and eventually I’d be able to just stroll in. Or as strolly as one gets in D.C., where walking into practically any venue requires either showing an ID or going through a metal detector or both. (I remain grateful that none of the D.C. libraries requires such ridiculousness.)

Where was I? Right! So we spent the afternoon at the museum, sort of with our friends Michael and Julia and sort of not, since we split up, regrouped, and split up again, which meant Julia was done about 45 minutes before the rest of us, but that’s because Rudi and I stopped and had a late lunch partway through.

Ida B. Wells Quote

Here are just a few of the things we saw during our 4+ hours at the museum:

Connecticut was represented:

Barkley Hendricks' New Orleans Niggah

This painting, New Orleans Niggah, was painted by Barkley Hendricks, who taught at Conn until his recent death.

Prince Simbo of Connecticut

Prince Simbo’s powder horn

As was D.C.:

D.C.'s Chuck Brown Represented

The Godfather of Go-Go

Benjamin Bannecker

Benjamin Bannecker, who executed Pierre L’Enfant’s design for the new capital city of the United States

There was a lace shawl gifted to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria:

Harriet Tubman's Shawl

A dress designed by the same woman who did Jackie Kennedy’s wedding gown:

An Ann Lowe dress at the AAHM

And the one Rosa Parks was sewing that fateful day:

Rosa Park's Dress

The subterranean levels are devoted to history, while the floors above are dedicated more to culture. We missed the second floor, but the third is devoted to entrepreneurial endeavors, scientific achievement, military pageantry, and sports pinnacles, as well as additional exhibitions about the importance of place, education, and religion in everyday life.

There were sports before integration…:

Negro Leagues

… and after:


And at the very top of the museum, there’s fine arts, with exhibitions on music, literature, art, dance, theater, tv, and culinary arts:

Black Folk Music

Alma Thomas' Spring—Delightful Flower Bed and Edward Clark's The Big Egg

It was a lot. We covered nearly all of it, but it’s not remotely digestible that way. I look forward to returning when walk-ins are welcomed so I can look at just pieces of the collection, which I think will allow for more scope for reflection. Also, in future visits, I’ll know to set time aside for the Contemplative Court, which sits at the end of the history section. We ran out of time before the building was closing, but I think stopping in there would have allowed us to decompress some and sort out what we’d just seen.

"Our Lives Matter"

Category: arts,dc life. There is/are 2 Comments.

Thanks for the heads up on the MAAHC! I’ve been thinking of traveling to D.C. to see it but I had no idea it was so difficult to get tickets. Now I’ll know to plan ahead if I do go

Comment by Tasha B (heidenkind) 07.19.17 @ 9:38 pm

@Tasha: Definitely worth seeing, but yes, register for tickets ahead of time. There are some day-of tickets, but my understanding is that you need to queue up early in the morning for them, and there’s no guarantee of how many will be given away.

Comment by soe 07.21.17 @ 12:07 am