SMITHSONIAN’S MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY LAUNCHES ONLINE ACCESS WITH ‘SEARCHABLE MUSEUM’

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has taken the first step in making all of its content accessible online through a new Searchable Museum.

On Thursday, the Museum launched digital access to its Slavery & Freedom exhibit, which is where visitors of the Washington, D.C. collection begin their exploration of archives spanning from the 15th Century to modern day life in America. According to NPR, using the Searchable Museum, online visitors can now peruse the various artifacts, stories and interactive experiences of the exhibit from the comfort of their own homes.

The new online platform also gives visitors access to previously restricted areas like a 3-D virtual tour of the Point of Pines Slave Cabin, one of two remaining slave cabins from Edisto Island in South Carolina. The NMAAHC‘s online exhibit is also enhanced with videos, podcasts, and behind-the-scenes looks at the research that goes into creating the museum’s experiences.

One section added to Slavery & Freedom is called “Lesser-Known Stories,” and shares details about the lives of individuals like Black master distiller Nathan “Nearest” Green. The collection also recounts untold moments in Black history, like the tale of the act of resistance at Igbo Island, in which a group of enslaved people committed mass suicide.

The Searchable Museum also connects the Smithsonian’s content to related online resources.

“The goal was really to think about how we could bring history in your hands,” museum director Kevin Young told The Washington Post. “I really think the experience of going to the museum is transformative. And what we wanted out of the site is something transformative as well. I really see it as an incredible resource for visitors who really want to either experience the museum for the first time or return again and again online.”

The NMAAHC eventually plans on making all of its exhibits available online.

Up next this spring is Making A Way Out Of Now Way, which the museum’s website says “explores themes of agency, creativity, and resilience through personal stories of African Americans who challenged racial oppression and discrimination.”

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