The Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture are co-hosting a one-day event to help visitors identify and preserve their historical keepsakes. Residents in the New York area are encouraged to go through their old trunks, attics, and basements to find up to three small items for a 15-minute consultation with professionals on what the items are and how to care for them. Museum officials are requesting that items be no larger than a shopping bag so they can be handled easily. The consultants will serve as reviewers, not appraisers, and will not suggest a monetary value.
This event is free and open to the public. It will be held in the Brooklyn Museum’s Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion and Lobby, Saturday, July 20, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This program, “Save Our African American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative of Discovery and Preservation,” will be the 12th in a series held throughout the United States since 2008.
New York City’s African American history spans a wide range including the African Burial Ground National Monument in Manhattan, the Harlem Renaissance, and Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. According to Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum, co-hosting a program about African American history with the Smithsonian fits the museum’s mission to act “as a bridge between world cultures.”
In addition to the professional review of items, “Save Our African American Treasures” will include activities and tours throughout the day. Brooklyn Museum’s chief curator, Kevin Stayton, will provide a tour of various galleries. There will also be presentations on preserving clothing, photographs, papers, and textiles, and hands-on activities to practice the proper preparation, packing, and storage techniques.
The Brooklyn Museum is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the nation. Construction began in 1895 on the west wing which was completed and opened in 1897. Additional wings were added to the Beaux-Arts style building through the 1920s. No further work was done based on the original McKim, Mead & White design after 1926. That made the museum 560,000 square feet–only one-fourth the size originally planned.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It was established in 2003 by an Act of Congress but will not open until 2015. The building will be in Washington, D. C., on the National Mall, on a five-acre tract next to the Washington Monument.
For additional information regarding the “Save Our African American Treasures” program, please contact the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Cynthia Collins, Museum Correspondent