African American Museum Digitizes Vintage Photos For Black Families

The institution created the Community Curation Program to help Black families digitize old photos and footage.

Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, stands in front of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., July 26, 2016. The institution is due to open in September. The outer shell, or corona, was designed to match the 17-degree angle of the capstone of the Washington Monument, behind. (photo by Allison Shelley for Smithsonian magazine)

Museum of African American History

The National Museum of African American History in Washington harbors pieces of history that illustrate the story of the Black experience in America, and now the institution is giving African American families the opportunity to preserve memories of their own, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The museum launched a free program—dubbed the Community Curation Program—which provides Black families with the tools and equipment needed to preserve old photographs and footage by converting them into digital records, the news outlet writes. The program is supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Fund and travels to different cities across the country. The museum also provides the same equipment at the institution in Washington. One of the project’s latest stops was at the Impact Hub Baltimore in Station North, Maryland.

“In a very radical way, we recognize the importance of these vernacular, homemade images, this folk cinema, as an alternate history to the kinds of history that the mass media tells,” museum media archivist Walter Forsbergtold The Baltimore Sun. “We wanted to render a public service free of charge because we knew there was a lot of material out there trapped on obsolete formats.”

Krewasky A. Salter, another museum curator, told the news outlet that the museum hopes to include some of the images, footage, and objects in their upcoming exhibitions; stating that the content provided by families will help fill in missing gaps in history. Several families have already taken advantage of the resource. Individuals who have digitized their family mementos say that the Community Curation Program has allowed them to weave their personal family stories into the larger fabric of Black history in a significant way. “These are stories in my family, and now I can share them with others,” said Pia Jordan, assistant professor at the School of Global Journalism and Communication atMorgan State University, according to the source.

The National Museum of African American History has been dedicated to capturing the essence of all facets of Black culture. The institution is currently working on crowd fundraising for a hip-hop anthology that will delve into the influence of Black music and African American culture on the world.

SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun

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