The Making of a Museum

With the oFacade of African American Museumpening of the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) on March 8, 2008, Seattle’s cultural map expands to include one more unique and interesting destination. Through interactive exhibits, programs and events the museum promises to “document the unique historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.” NAAM is, clearly, the new kid on the block of established and honored museums in the region.

Planning a trip to the museum? Enhance your visit before you enter the Journey Gallery by reading In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 by Quintard Taylor or The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District, from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era, also by Taylor.

The Northwest Gallery features painter Jacob Lawrence and sculptor James Washington Jr. In addition to their works of art, the tools each artist used to shape and develop their creations are on view. While Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings and Murals (1935-1999) A Catalogue Raisonné by Peter Nesbitt is essential reading for a comprehensive view of Lawrence’s works, Jacob Lawrence: American Painter by Ellen Harkins Wheat is a solid beginning for understanding the life and work of the artist.

The Spirit in the Stone: the Visionary Art of James W. Washington, Jr. is a fine introduction to the work of the sculptor. In collaboration with NAAM, The Washington House, Studio & Garden is hosting its first Artist-in-Residence, former Seattleite Daniel Minter.

Check out the Events link on NAAM’s website for additional programs and events.

And as long as you’re in the neighborhood, you might want to also check out the 9,200 items in the African-American Collection at the Douglass-Truth Branch Library. Started in 1965 by a donation from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, it includes material on the African-American experience in the United States, especially in the Northwest. History, biography, literature, arts, and culture are all covered in this premier collection.

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