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Smithsonian’s NMAAHC debuts ‘Searchable Museum’ digital initiative

National Museum of African American History and Culture is putting its exhibitions and collections online.

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smithsonian searchable museum

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. has launched the new ‘Searchable Museum’ digital initiative.

The ‘Searchable Museum’ puts the Smithsonian institution‘s exhibitions and installations online, making them accessible to audiences across the globe. More than a year in the making, it offers access to the museum’s collections and educational resources.

The site’s inaugural digital exhibition, ‘Slavery and Freedom’, is based on a permanent installation at NMAAHC and has been reimagined for the digital space.

‘Slavery and Freedom’ exhibition

“By marshalling the latest technology and harnessing the scholarly and educational experience of the museum’s teams, the Searchable Museum tells the complex story of our nation’s history in ways only the National Museum of African American History and Culture can,” said Kevin Young, the museum’s director.

“This ongoing project provides a chance for Americans to realize our shared past, bringing the unique museum experience to their homes and on their phones.”

The online exhibition offers existing and new assets, digitised exhibition content, state-of-the-art technology, and multimedia components such as 3D models, videos and audio podcasts.

‘Slavery and Freedom’ explores the history of slavery and freedom, kicking off in the 14th century and finishing with the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. It boasts first-person accounts and artefacts.

Access to NMAAHC collections

national museum of african american history and culture

“Allowing the public to virtually revisit the originating struggle for American freedom in the ‘Slavery and Freedom’ exhibition reminds us of the centrality of the African American journey to the American experience – a story of triumph, resilience and joy over the centuries,” Young added. “With this launch, we look forward to continuing the museum’s digital outreach and efforts.”

NMAAHC will continue to update and expand the Searchable Museum, eventually bringing all of its exhibitions online. In spring 2022, the museum plans to launch the ‘Making a Way Out of No Way’ exhibition on the platform.

The website is free to use and does not require registration.

Images: The Smithsonian

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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