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Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum reopens
Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum's updated exterior landscaping. Image by Michael Barnes, Smithsonian Institution.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum reopened to the public Sunday, Oct 13, after seven months of construction and $4.5 million of exterior and interior improvements and repairs to enhance the visitor experience.

“We are thrilled to show off the changes we’ve made to make the facility more engaging to the community while supporting both our curatorial research and educational work in environmental stewardship,” Adams said. Adams joined the museum Aug. 5 from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Featuring plants native to the area and developed with Smithsonian Gardens, the redesigned museum landscape hosts a permanent living, teaching installation with narrative panels on the Anacostia Watershed history, including the first inhabitants—the Nachotchtank—and on local river-restoration efforts. A demonstration vegetable garden to support the museum’s urban gardening initiative is also included along with an expanded hardscape activity plaza with additional seating, a bike rack and exterior lighting. Low walls and plantings, artfully installed, properly direct stormwater runoff. The parking lot was also levelled and repaved.

Visitors entering the museum will experience areas reconfigured to promote a more welcoming and comfortable environment. Anchored by a mural created by Washington, D.C., artist Jay Coleman, the lobby has soft seating and a refreshment counter, and it provides access to several other areas. It leads to the new internet lounge that features a second mural created by Washington artist Adrienne Gaither and where mobile devices can be charged and formal and informal gatherings can be held.

The lobby also provides access to the museum exhibition spaces. The main gallery houses the exhibition on gentrification, “A Right to the City,” with added historical map content. It remains on view until April 20, 2020. The Program Room Gallery features the photo installation “Capturing the Anacostia” about community river use, and the Loggia Gallery has “GenZ Speaks: The Right to the City,” a new exhibition created by nine home-schooled students offering their responses to gentrification. The youth exhibition received support from the Coca Cola Foundation. Accessible from the Loggia Gallery is the newly furnished and gated patio. A new HVAC system and improved interior lighting round out the renovations.

During the construction, the museum launched the initiative “Offsite and in the City,” and through a unique partnership with the DC Public Library, opened mini-satellite versions of the exhibition “A Right to the City” in libraries located in the neighborhoods profiled in the museum’s main gallery presentation. The satellite exhibits, based on the Adams Morgan, Anacostia, Brookland and Shaw sections of the exhibition will remain on view during regular library hours at the following locations: Mt. Pleasant, 3160 16th St. N.W.; Anacostia, 1800 Good Hope Rd. S.E.; Woodridge, 1801 Hamlin St. N.E.; and Shaw, 1630 Seventh St. N.W., in tandem with the main exhibition at the museum through April 20, 2020, and will continue to feature complementary public programming.

“I feel particularly fortunate have joined the museum at this time with our refreshed look and expanded mission to illuminate and amplify the community’s collective power,” Adams said. “I really look forward to getting to know our visitors both as director of the museum and perhaps even as a next-door neighbor since I now live in the area.”

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