The Weekly Spotlight: Anacostia Community Museum

Smithsonian's Anacostia Community MuseumThe Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Community Museum (1901 Fort Place, SE) “documents and interprets the effect of historical and contemporary social and cultural issues on communities.”

The museum’s collections encompass three areas:

  • The neighborhood collections focus primarily on artifacts relevant to the history and community life of Washington neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.
  • The arts collections—primarily folk art—explore national and international themes of community such as creativity and nonconformity.
  • The legacy collection is composed of significant African American historical and cultural artifacts and materials. 

The current exhibit Word, Shout, Song: Lorenzo Dow Turner Connecting Communities Through Language runs through July 24.  This exhibition documents the historical journey made by people from Africa to the Americas, along with their language and music. In the 1930s, Lorenzo Dow Turner discovered that the Gullah people of Georgia and South Carolina retained parts of the culture and language of their West African enslaved ancestors. Turner’s research produced a living treasury of previously unknown traditions, songs, and folkways that also uncovered and illuminated the connections with West African and Afro-Brazilian communities. On view are rare photographs, recordings, and artifacts collected by Turner from those Gullah communities in the United States, Brazil, and West Africa.

Read more about the exhibit and Turner’s life in the exhibit brochure, the Smithsonian Magazine‘s “Around the Mall” blog, and here in The Washington Post. You can also read an interview the National Endowment for the Arts had with the museum’s curators about the exhibit. 

The museum is hoReal Justice - A Tribute to Thurgood Marshall 15 foot sculpture by Allen Uzikee Nelsonsting “Creativity and Youth Culture in Southeast Washington” community forum on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:00 pm. This will explore youth and creative expression as developed through the work of such groups and organizations as Junk Yard Band, Facilitating Leadership in Youth, Life Pieces to Masterpieces, Multi-Media Training Institute, and others. This forum is part of  the “Call and Response: Community and Creativity Project” which is documenting creative expressions in Wards 7 and 8. 

Every month the museum has free programs ranging from music and dance performances to storytelling to art workshops for schools during the week as well as for families on the weekends. Guided tours for schools, families, and organizations are also available.

The Museum Academy at the Anacostia Community Museum offers free after-school and summer cultural arts educational enrichment programs for 4th through 6th grade students. Designed to enhance reading, research skills, creative ability, social and intellectual development, the curriculum is based on the museum’s rotating exhibitions and connects the program activities to DC public school standards of learning. The program provides learning experiences through field trips, books, outdoor recreation, and creative art projects.

This school year the museum offers the after-school program for students at Patterson Elementary and the summer program is open to all 4th through 6th grade students in Ward 8. The summer program runs from June 25 to August 5 from 12:00 noon to 6:00 pm at Patterson Elementary School (4399 South Capitol Terrace, SW). Registration for the Museum Academy Summer Camp is on a first-come, first-served basis. To get more information and an application, contact Linda Maxwell at (202) 633-4849 or e-mail

For more information about the Anacostia Community Museum, visit its website at, call (202) 633-4820, or e-mail The museum is also on Facebook and Twitter.

photo credit: Smithsonian Institution and rockcreek
Every week The Weekly Spotlight highlights the great work an arts nonprofit organization or an individual does for the arts for DC youth. 

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