November 23, 2021
The latest in a slew of institutions launching virtual counterparts, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture released a new platform that makes its archive accessible to those outside of its Washington, D.C. home. Displaying its lauded collection of Black history, the Searchable Museum is a digital trove of multimedia projects, videos, podcasts, and more than 40,000 3D renderings of its archive.
Its first exhibition, titled Slavery and Freedom, opens in 1400, an era before people were seen as goods to be bought and sold. “By the 1600s, an unanticipated shift took place. The primary commodity became enslaved African people. This is their story,” a statement says. The exhibition follows slavery’s trajectory—it speaks to the ways Black people shaped colonial North America and the hypocrisy inherent in the U.S.’s vows for freedom before culminating in an exploration of the Civil War and Reconstruction—through photos, banknotes, maps, illustrations, and a variety of other artifacts.
As its name suggests, the Searchable Museum offers multiple ways to peruse its archive, including an explore section with objects like Harriet Tubman’s shawl and the Point of Pines Slave Cabin, a relic from the plantation on Edisto Island, South Carolina, that was occupied from 1850 to the 1980s and is only viewable online. Other segments include glimpses into the stories of people who aren’t widely known but have profound impacts and the way history continues to shape life today. (via Hyperallergic)
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