Note: This is the seventh installment of WCBS 880’s Black History Month series.
WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork)– This fall, the Smithsonian Institution will welcome the public to its National Museum of African American History and Culture.
One of the challenges facing Lonnie Bunch, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, was building its collection.
“So much of the twentieth century and the nineteenth century was still in the basements, trunks, and attics of people’s homes,” Bunch told WCBS 880’s Jane Tillman Irving.
The museum held “antiques roadshow”-style events at local museums across the country, teaching conservation techniques and examining people’s treasures.
Such coveted items include a tin wallet made by a man named William Trammel, freed in Virginia in the 1850s. The item held his precious freedom document.
“And it’s those kinds of things that allow us to tell a story. Yes, it’s about slavery and freedom, but it’s really about human dignity,” Bunch said.
That piece of history, along with numerous others, made it into the Smithsonian’s collection.
The Smithsonian Institution’s newest museum will open in Washington on September 24th.