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Established as the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in the old Carver movie theater on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue in 1967, the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum is now home to the Center for African American History and Culture. John Kinard (1936-1989), its first director, developed the museum as a center responsive to the cultural and educational needs of area residents. It was the nation's first federally funded neighborhood museum. It moved to this wooded, hilltop site in 1987.

The museum offers changing exhibits and programs documenting the historical and cultural experiences of people of African descent. The collections comprise approximately 6,000 objects dating to the early 1800s: works of art, archaeological materials, textiles, furniture, photographs, audio and video tapes, and musical instruments. Over time distinctive collections have developed in seven key areas: religion and spirituality, dance, quilts, community life in Washington, DC, photography, slavery, and contemporary popular culture. Currently researchers are building a comprehensive collection of costumes, props, scripts, and film footage to tell the story of African Americans in television, film, and the performing arts. Among the museum's outreach programs is an initiative to teach the fundamentals of collecting and preservation to individuals and communities such as churches, universities, and social organizations.

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