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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Anacostia in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

A Museum for the Community

An East-of-the-River View

 

—Anacostia Heritage Trail —

 
A Museum for the Community Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
1. A Museum for the Community Marker
Inscription. Across the street is the former Carver Theatre, built in 1948 as the first nonsegregated movie house in Southeast Washington. It closed in 1957 becoming, in turn, a roller rink, a church, and a funeral parlor.

Then a decade later, a museum moved in — one that changed the whole idea of what a museum can be.

Smithsonian Institution Secretary S. Dillon Ripley knew that most low­ income people did not go to museums, so he decided to bring a museum to them. Several DC neighborhoods vied for the privilege of having a branch of the Smithsonian, but Anacostia won, thanks to negotiating by DC Councilmember Stanley Anderson and citizens organized as the Greater Anacostia People's Corporation.

Until the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum opened in 1967, the Smithsonian had never produced a major exhibition on African American history or culture nor had it employed any African American curators. The museum tapped John Kinard, an anti-poverty worker and local activist with no museum experience, to run the new facility. Kinard later described the job as "a leap in the dark;' yet the creative risk paid off.

Many east-of-the-river residents now experienced museum-going for the first time. While early installations featured a model of a Mercury space capsule and dinosaur bones, soon, with community
A Museum for the Community Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
2. A Museum for the Community Marker
input, the local story took center stage. Through exhibits on Anacostia's history, arts, and issues, visitors received the message: your history is important too. At Kinard's insistence, community youth helped design and produce much of the museums programming.

After the museum achieved national recognition for its exhibit “The Rat: Man's Invited Affliction” (featuring live rats), Kinard began looking for more space. In 1987 it moved to a new building at Fort Stanton Park and in 2006 became the Anacostia Community Museum.
 
Erected by Anacostia Heritage Trail. (Marker Number 9.)
 
Location. 38° 51.755′ N, 76° 59.547′ W. Marker is in Anacostia, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southeast when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2405 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southeast, Washington DC 20020, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Nichols Avenue Elementary School/Old Birney School Site (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Birney School (about 300 feet away); Crossing Lines (about 600 feet away); A Navy Town (about
The Carver Theater<br>Now Community College Preparatory Academy image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
3. The Carver Theater
Now Community College Preparatory Academy
600 feet away); Faith and Action (about 700 feet away); Barry Farm - Hillsdale (about 700 feet away); The Big Chair (approx. ¼ mile away); The World’s Largest Chair (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anacostia.
 
Categories. Notable Buildings
 
The Carver Theater, 1967 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
4. The Carver Theater, 1967
The empty theater awaits the museum in 1967.
Close-up of photo on marker
Robert Hall image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
5. Robert Hall
Museum Educator Robert Hall guides Savoy Elementary fifth and sixth graders around the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, 1986.
Close-up of photo on marker
Almore Dale and Stanley Anderson image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
6. Almore Dale and Stanley Anderson
Almore Dale, a pillar of Anacostia's black community (right), and City Councilmember Stanley Anderson, (left) led the Smithsonian to locate a neighborhood museum here.
Close-up of photos on marker
John Kinard & Muhammed Ali image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
7. John Kinard & Muhammed Ali
Museum Director John Kinard supervises a summer youth worker helping transform the old movie theater into the museum, 1967.

Boxer Muhammed Ali at the opening of the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, 1967.
Close-up of photos on marker
Anacostia Community Museum image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
8. Anacostia Community Museum
The Anacostia Community Museum is a short ride up Morris Rd.

Catch the W3 or W6 Bus at the corner of Morris Rd. for the 10-minute ride to 1901 Fort PI., See If you look out the windows on the driver's side you'll see Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church and Fort Stanton Park. Fort Stanton was one of 12 Civil War defenses built east of the Anacostia River and part of 68 fortifications that ringed the city.
Close-up of sidebar on marker
Community College Preparatory Academy image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
9. Community College Preparatory Academy
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 24, 2017. This page originally submitted on January 14, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 179 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 14, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   7, 8, 9. submitted on January 17, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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