2023 AAAM Conference Opening Plenary

Association of African American Museums Announces an Opening Plenary to Include Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III

Washington, D.C. —The Association of African American Museums (AAAM), a non-profit organization that supports African- and African American-focused museums, will celebrate 50 years of hip-hop during its annual conference July 26-28 in Nashville, Tennessee. Themed “Museums, Music and Movements,” the event will include an opening plenary entitled “Delivering on a Promise: Reflections on a Peoples Journey, A Nations Story.” Panelists include Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III; George Mason University Robinson Professor Spencer Crew, Ph.D.; President of Dickerson Global Advisors Amina Dickerson; and President of Opening Minds, Inc. Juanita Moore. Each plenary participant is well versed in the intricate details involved in advocating for and creating the legislation for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museum Grants for African American History and Culture.

The plenary participants will also reflect on the importance of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the NMAAHC’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, which has served the museum field with an intentional connection to supporting the broader Black Museum field and historically Black colleges and universities. Secretary Bunch will discuss his foundational perspective relating to his current role and vision for shaping the Smithsonian, connecting to the 175th Anniversary, the SI strategic plan, Our Shared Futures and the trajectory of how the museum field at-large should prepare for the 250th anniversary of America.

Now in its 45th year, AAAM’s annual event brings together museum professionals from around the world to engage in professional development activities and exchange ideas that they can implement at their respective institutions. The annual conference also offers the opportunity for attendees to recharge from the rigor of their work. “Sharing African and African American stories is inherently difficult,” said Vedet Coleman-Robinson, Ph.D., AAAM’s executive director. “As AAAM members educate audiences about experiences such as slavery, the Civil Rights Movement and current social and racial injustices, AAAM provides safe spaces for its members to recharge and share their experiences while learning about best practices that will best serve their communities.”

The Association of African American Museums is comprised of cultural organizations, historical societies and museums that collect, preserve and exhibit objects valuable to art, history and science involving African and African American communities. Educational institutions, research centers and cultural centers are also among the members. Since its founding in 1978, AAAM’s membership has grown immensely under the helm of Coleman-Robinson and now includes over 1,200 individual and institutional members worldwide (over 200% growth since 2019).

“The Association of African American Museums ensures its members remain resilient, nimble and ready to face the challenges that come with their work,” said Coleman-Robinson. “Sharing African and African American stories became trendy on the heels of the resurgence of Black Lives Matter in 2020 and the implementation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021, but AAAM has been doing this now-popular work for more than four decades. Many of the members have persevered through financial strain, structural threats and other challenges to make sure their communities have access to these important stories. AAAM is a network of buoyant institutions that stand as trailblazers in their communities and the museum field.”

For more information about the Association of African American Museums and the annual conference, please visit www.blackmuseums.org.

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DeAnne Williams
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