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Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum to reopen this Sunday

Curbed logo Curbed 4 days ago Andrew Giambrone
a sign on the side of a road: Anacostia Community Museum © Michael R. Barnes/Smithsonian Institution Anacostia Community Museum

The only Smithsonian Institution museum east of the Anacostia River is slated to reopen this Sunday after a seven-month-long, $4.5 million renovation meant to improve its accessibility, lighting, and other features. Located at 1901 Fort Place SE, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a meet-and-greet with its new director, Melanie Adams, will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Now boasting a new entrance, the site has been closed since this past March.

The museum was established in 1967 and stands close to Fort Ricketts in Southeast. It will reopen with “A Right to the City,” an exhibit that portrays how the District has transformed over the past five-plus decades. During the construction work, the exhibit was displayed at several public libraries across D.C., and a spokeswoman for the museum says these satellite presentations will remain in place through the rest of the exhibit period, set to end in April.

The upgrades additionally include new greenery, seats, lights, and murals. Per the museum:

Featuring plants native to the area and developed with Smithsonian Gardens, the redesigned museum landscape hosts a permanent living, teaching installation with narrative panels on the Anacostia Watershed history, including the first inhabitants—the Nachotchtank—and on local river-restoration efforts. A demonstration vegetable garden to support the museum’s urban gardening initiative is also included along with an expanded hardscape activity plaza with additional seating, a bike rack and exterior lighting. Low walls and plantings, artfully installed, properly direct stormwater runoff. The parking lot was also levelled and repaved. Visitors entering the museum will experience areas reconfigured to promote a more welcoming and comfortable environment. Anchored by a mural created by Washington, D.C., artist Jay Coleman, the lobby has soft seating and a refreshment counter, and it provides access to several other areas. It leads to the new internet lounge that features a second mural created by Washington artist Adrienne Gaither and where mobile devices can be charged and formal and informal gatherings can be held.

Adams, whose appointment was announced last May, previously worked at the Minnesota Historical Society and led community outreach efforts. Adams also worked at the Missouri Historical Society and served as president of the Association of Midwest Museums. “She succeeds Lori Yarrish, who was the director of the museum from December 2017 until her death in August 2018,” according to the museum. “Lisa Sasaki, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, served as interim director.” The free museum is open daily.

This post has been updated with additional information from the Smithsonian Institution.

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