Skip to main content

National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)

Kevin Young, Andrew W. Mellon Director

Legislation was signed in 2003 establishing the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The Museum’s building is scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015. NMAAHC is dedicated to the collection, preservation, research, and exhibition of African American historical and cultural material reflecting the breadth and depth of the experiences of individuals of African descent living in the United States. Currently, in its pre-building phase, the museum is presenting exhibitions, producing publications, hosting public programs, and building its collections. Its growing collections include material culture, documents, and art from era of slavery, the period of Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement, and more recent developments in history and culture from 1968 to the present. This is a unique opportunity for students to work with a museum-in-the-making, and to contribute to the research for its exhibitions and programs.

The collections, exhibitions, research, publications, and educational programs serve the Museum’s basic mission: to inspire a broader understanding of African American history and culture in a national and international context. In addition to exhibitions, the Museum interprets history and culture through performances and hands on activities, as well as music from America’s past.

The Museum’s programmatic objectives are flexible enough to encourage the creation of projects tailored to students’ interests and needs. The student will have opportunities to develop and engage in a variety of projects that may include oral history projects, regional history, as well as art and cultural history. Under the supervision of museum staff, there is also the opportunity to engage in curriculum development and program evaluation projects. The Museum’s growing permanent collection of artifacts, archives, photographic holdings, and art offers scholars interested in African American material culture excellent opportunities for research.

Research Staff

Bercaw, NancyMuseum Curator.  B.A. Oberlin College; M.A. University of Pennsylvania; Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania.  Research specialties: Slavery and Emancipation; materializing slavery; museums, collections, and collecting; historical memory and African-American counter-narratives; race, gender, and sexuality; race and science.

Curtis, ArianaCurator. B.A. (2002) Duke University; M.A.(2009) American University; Ph.D.(2012) American University. Research Specialties: Latino history and culture; Racial constructions in the Americas; Latino urban experiences; Blackness in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean; African Diaspora; urban immigration and migration; Latin American political history; identity and policy. Contact: CurtisA@si.edu

Gardullo, Paul, Museum Curator. B.A. (1986) Rutgers University; M.A. (2001), Ph.D. (2006) George Washington University. Research specialties: African American history and culture; American social and cultural history; public history; memory; race; popular culture, photography and visual culture, folklife. Contact: GardulloP@si.edu

Gates Moresi, Michèle, Curator of Collections. B.A. (1989), M.Phil. (1997), Ph.D. (2003) George Washington University. Research specialties: 19th century U.S. Social History, African American History, Material Culture Studies, Museum History, Collections Research. Contact: GatesMoresiM@si.edu

Hyppolite, JoanneMuseum Curator. B.A. University of Pennsylvania, M.A. University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D. University of Miami. Research specialties: African American and Caribbean history, culture and literature, immigrant American community life, foodways, folklife and traditional culture. Contact: Hyppolitej@si.edu

Nichols, Elaine, Senior Curator of Culture. BA, University of North Carolina Charlotte; MSSA, Case Western Reserve University; MA, University of South Carolina. Research specialties: African American history and culture, historical archaeology, textiles/costumes, and African American funeral and mourning customs. Contact: NicholsEl@si.edu

Pretzer, William, Curator of History. B.A. (1972) Stanford University; M.A. (1976), Ph.D. (1986) Northern Illinois University. Research specialties: Labor and technology; the book and printing history; social history. Contact: PretzerW@si.edu

Strait, Kevin M.Museum Curator.  B.A. Wesleyan University; M.A. George Washington University; Ph.D. George Washington University.  Research specialties: 19th and 20th century African American music, African American cultural history, African American intellectual history, American popular culture, 20th century African-American literature. Contact: straitk@si.edu

Wilkinson, Michelle JoanMuseum Curator. B.A. (1993) Bryn Mawr College; M.A. (1997) Emory University; Ph.D. (2001) Emory University. Research specialties: contemporary black life and culture; architecture and design; poetry; art and social movements; African diaspora studies. Contact: Wilkinsonm@si.edu

Affiliated Research Staff

Anderson, Renée S., Museum Specialist. B.F.A. (1983) Virginia Commonwealth University; M.S. (1997), Ph.D. (2000) Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Research specialties: clothing and textiles; design process. Contact: AndersonR@si.edu

Franklin, John W., Director of Partnerships and International Programs. B.A. (1973) Stanford University. Research specialties: Cultural change in French-speaking West Africa and the Caribbean, African Diaspora studies, Cape Verde and Cape Verdian Americans, multicultural perspectives in cultural institutions, African American history and culture in U.S. museums. Contact: FranklinJ@si.edu

Washington, Esther J., Director of Education. B.A. (1982) Howard University. Research specialties: K-12 object-based education, family programming, multiple learning styles, visitors with disabilities, technology/new media in museum settings. Contact: WashingtonEJ@si.edu

Back to Top