Founded in 1967, the Anacostia Community Museum was the nation’s first federally-funded community museum. Its mission and work revolve around contemporary urban issues and community life and history, with an emphasis on community-focused approaches to research, documentation, and educational and cultural programming. The geographic scope of the museum’s work and collections centers on the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and includes urban communities in other parts of the United States. Core to the work of the museum is the belief that active citizen participation in the recovery and preservation of community historical assets, in cultural and arts activities, and in community advocacy are important and powerful instruments in creating and maintaining a sense of community and civic ownership. The permanent collection supports the museum’s investigation of contemporary community life, and of issues and themes that shape and resonate within urban communities. An important goal of museum collections is the development of strategies to engage public audiences with the artifacts and other materials in the museum’s collections.
Smithsonian interns and fellows assist the museum in producing and bringing scholarship to a broader public in a wide variety of community-engaged ways, as well as conduct their own cross-disciplinary research. The museum has welcomed students, artists, and scholars in fields across the humanities and social sciences, and has particular strengths in urban history, social and human geography, community studies, cultural studies, and urban ecology. The museum also has a strong focus on community-based documentation and research efforts—including oral history interviewing, community survey and mapping projects, and community-based collecting.
Museum research centers on four main areas of inquiry:
Urban Arts: the wide range of creative activities that take place within urban communities
Cultural Encounters: the interaction between diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural communities with a focus on migration and immigration
Urban Ecology: the environmental issues found in urban spaces and the impact of the built environment on the natural environment within urban areas
Urban Studies: the broad array of issues within urban spaces, including research on community history; land use; demographic changes; planning strategies, development and gentrification
Meghelli, Samir, Supervisory Museum Curator. B.A., University of Pennsylvania; M.A., Columbia University; M.Phil., Columbia University; Ph.D., Columbia University. Research Specialties: U.S. urban history; twentieth-century African American and African diaspora history; hip hop and youth cultures; social movements; community history and oral history. Contact: MeghelliS@si.edu
Seidman, Rachel, Museum Curator. B.A., Oberlin College; Ph.D., Yale University. Research specialties: U.S. women's history, environmental justice, social movements, the Civil War, oral history methodology and community engaged research models. Contact: SeidmanR@si.edu
Affiliated Research Staff
Doutriaux, Miriam, Collections Manager. Research Specialties: cultural production and negotiation of identity, the history of collecting and museums, material culture, archaeology, and ancient American art and aesthetics. B.A. McGill University; Ph.D. (Anthropology) University of California-Berkeley. Contact DoutriauxM@si.edu
Lashley, Katrina, Program Coordinator (Urban Waterways). B.A. Rutgers University; M.A., American University. Research specialties: urban waterways; Anacostia River; urban ecology; environmental justice; women and the environmental movement; public history. Contact: LashleyK@si.edu