Scurlock Photographs Premiere at National Museum of African American History and Culture

Larry Saxton | 2/11/2009, 11:22 a.m.

For nearly a century the Scurlock Studio, run first by Addison Scurlock and then followed by his sons, Robert and George, used their cameras to document and celebrate the uniqueness of their Washington, D.C. community, its challenges, victories, and determination. As a tribute, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History present the exhibition €The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise.€

The exhibition, open through Nov. 15, is the first to be presented in the temporary gallery for the National Museum of African American History and Culture located in the newly renovated National Museum of American History. Included in the exhibit are more than 100 photographs, cameras and equipment from the studio, and period artifacts from the greater Washington area.
€I€m just so elated that the new museum has decided that the Scurlock exhibit would be their inaugural exhibit,€ Jacqueline Scurlock Colbert, granddaughter of Addison Scurlock, said. €I know that my grandfather, my father and my uncle would be so proud of this day.€
Originally from Fayetteville, N.C., Addison Scurlock moved to Washington, D.C. in 1900. He began his career as an apprentice with photographer Moses P. Rice, a White portraitist. In 1910, Addison Scurlock became the official photographer for Howard University, and a year later opened the Scurlock Studio on U Street in Northwest.

Included in the exhibition are photographs of Marian Anderson singing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a portrait of Duke Ellington at his piano, artist Lois Mailou Jones in her studio, a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Rankin Chapel, and Bishop C.M. €Sweet Daddy€ Grace and his congregation of the United House of Prayer for All People.

There are photographs that show the range of subject content which the Scurlocks chose to photograph in Black Washington, from the €Waterfront, Washington, D.C.,€ and €Children playing behind houses with Capitol Dome in Background,€ to the photographs of Black businesses €Underwood Delicatessen,€ and the €Murray Brothers Print Company.€

Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, said €Scurlock€s photographs captured the richness and the meaning of Black life in Washington, D.C., and ultimately, Addison, Robert and George Scurlock pictured a promise of an America where character might one day trump color.€

For more information, visit www.nmaahc.si.edu or call 202 633-1000, 202 633-5285 (TTY).
Larry Saxton can be reached at lsaxton@washingtoninformer.com.