National Museum of African Art Opens Its Doors for 50th Anniversary Day Celebration

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Music, Performances and Dance Will Mark the Occasion

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art celebrates its 50th anniversary Tuesday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Visitors of all ages can experience special performances and events intended to inspire them to learn more about the people and cultures of Africa and its diaspora through music, dance, film and art. The event is free.

The original Capitol Hill museum was founded June 3, 1964, by Warren Robbins in a townhouse that was originally the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass from 1871 to 1877. The anniversary year will honor Robbins’ vision of “cross-cultural communication through education in the arts of Africa.

I want all ages to experience this special 50th-anniversary celebration at the National Museum of African Art,” said Maya Angelou, the honorary chair of the museum’s national campaign. “You can sing the songs, dance the dances, see the sculptures and hear the melodies. Not only do you belong to the museum, it belongs to you. Congratulations for the happy anniversary.”

“Our 50th anniversary is all about lifting up the multiple ways in which the visual arts of Africa teach and inspire us to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity and similarities among us,” said Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the museum.

Michel Martin, host of NPR’s “Tell Me More,” will lead an anecdotal discussion with special guests on the 50 years of the National Museum of African Art. Cole will lead a 50th-anniversary toast with birthday cupcakes and refreshments.

The celebration offers something for everyone, including art activities, henna painting, a workshop featuring the weaving crafts of Sierra Leone and Liberia influenced by the museum’s latest exhibition, “Visions of the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone,” an African clothing station titled “Wrappers and Robes, Tunics and Toppers,” demonstrations, a photo selfie station and performances by Eme and Heteru, and Farafina Kan.

About the National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is America’s only museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about this exhibition, call (202) 633-4600 or visit the museum’s website. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.


Support for the 50th anniversary day celebration is provided by Nando’s Peri Peri, Sprinkles Cupcakes and Blessed Coffee.

Note: To arrange an interview with the artists contact Eddie Burke at (202) 633-4660 or

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