Smithsonian Commitments to the Center for the Study of Global Slavery

Posted in exhibitions, museums, resources by Editor on October 17, 2022

Brownell’s recent article for The New York Times highlights priorities of the National Museum of African American History and Culture—as first established under the leadership of Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director, who now oversees the entire Smithsonian Institution—as well as forthcoming projects including the international exhibition In Slavery’s Wake.

Ginanne Brownell, “A Smithsonian Museum Sharpens Focus on the History of Slavery,” The New York Times (14 October 2022). Despite ambivalence from some on the topic, the institution’s latest leader “knew that slavery had to be at the heart of the museum.”

Exterior view of the National Museum of African American History and Culture; Washington, DC (Photo by Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC).

“Every nation is ambivalent about slavery,” said Mr. [Lonnie] Bunch, the first African American to lead the Smithsonian. “The people of color are ambivalent: Is this something to be embarrassed by? Is this something that is better left unsaid? So basically, I knew that slavery had to be at the heart of the museum.”

When the museum [National Museum of African American History and Culture] opened in 2017, so did the Center for the Study of Global Slavery within it. The center’s work focuses on three international collaborative initiatives: the Slave Wrecks Project, the Global Curatorial Project, and the Slave Voyages Consortium.

The Slave Wrecks Project helps coordinate searches for sunken slave ships and works on maritime archaeological research and historical recovery. This month in Senegal, the inaugural Slave Wrecks Project Academy’s cohort of African and diaspora students are being trained in diving and learning about the global slave trade. The center also works with slavevoyages.org to help expand data collection beyond the trans-Atlantic slave trade and is working to broaden research into both the Indian Ocean and inter-American slave trades.

Under the auspices of the Global Curatorial Project, a number of partner institutions—including Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, Iziko Slave Lodge in Cape Town, and Belgium’s Royal Museum of Central Africa—are in the midst of putting together In Slavery’s Wake, a traveling exhibition that will open first at the museum in Washington in late 2024 and then move to Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

The center will be hosting an event in Lisbon, Portugal in January, with a tentative title Reckoning with Race: The Social Memory of the Slave Trade in Our World, that will aim to bring more public attention to the role that Portugal played in the slave trade. Mr. Bunch will be one of the event’s speakers. . . .

The full article is available here»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: