February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Peek Inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture | Touch and Go

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National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture. Building by David Adjaye, Philip Freelon, and Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group

If distance or lack of ticket availability has kept you from visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC, the museum’s free app, designed to complement an on-site visit, will allow those with iOS or Android devices a look inside.

The museum, located on the National Mall in Washington, DC, a place once bordered by “pens for enslaved people bound for the Deep South,” opened its doors last September, and houses a number of collections including those focused on African American and African diaspora culture, slavery and freedom, the African American military experience, and the visual arts.

The app is organized by Exhibition Stories, Stories for Families with Children, Building Stories, Outdoor Stories, and Stories with Multimedia and AR experiences. Viewers can delve deeper into each of these topics through a selection of images; a tap on an object or artifact brings it to full-screen view along with a caption and a few lines of descriptive text (also available in audio). Below the selected image are related objects or artifacts. A touch to one of these pictures will elicit details on the item’s origin, date, dimensions. subject, medium, etc. Information is available in English, Spanish, and French.

Among the many objects and artifacts visitors will see are: Nat Turner’s Bible; Woolworth’s Sit-In Stools; 1972 “Shirley Chisholm for President” poster and pins; a Pullman Porter cap; a boat seat with a spider web (Anansi) design; and a panel from the corona designed for the museum’s exterior.

Occasional videos are embedded, such as the one of the restoration and installation of a segregated railway coach.

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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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