Anacostia Museum Celebrates 40th Anniversary

New Exhibit Focuses on 4 Decades of Change

The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum is celebrating its 40th anniversary this fall with a special exhibit, “East of the River: Continuity and Change.”

The exhibit, which is on display in all three galleries through Nov. 9, takes a broad look at history and the changes that the community has seen over the last 40 years from its side of the Anacostia River.

On Thursday, the museum also held a gala award ceremony whose honorees included jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, Radio One and TV One founder Cathy Hughes and singer Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock.

“The museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American community from a community perspective,” said Gail Lowe, senior historian.

Since its creation in 1967, the community museum has offered exhibitions, educational programs, workshops, lectures and films for local residents.

It houses more than 6,000 collections, some of which date back to the early 1800s. It is known for being the nation’s first federally funded neighborhood museum.

The Anacostia museum is also now recognized as a national resource on community and cultural development. It is known for a tradition of creating critically acclaimed exhibitions, unique educational programming, scholarly publications, and innovative Web-based outreach.

Recent exhibitions have included “Banding Together: 20 Years of Black Paper Dolls” and “D.C. Undercover: Photographs by Steven M. Cumming.” The museum also has online exhibitions on spirituality, food service and writers such as Octavia Butler and E. Ethelbert Miller.

Lowe explained that exhibits reflect the museum’s appeal to a multigenerational audience in addition to dealing with family and community history.

Programs for youth include the Museum Academy, which offers cultural enrichment programming for children in Washington.

The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum is located at 1901 Fort Place, S.E. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free.

“Visiting this museum is important for all people, because we learn so much about African Americans,” Lowe said. “But we also learn about those things that really make us human beings.”

“It is good to learn about other ways and other experiences to learn the commonality between cultures.”