The Anacostia Community Museum, 45 Years and Counting

9/19/2012, 12:59 p.m.

The ACM is the nation's first federally funded community museum that recently expanded its focus from an African-American emphasis to examining the impact of contemporary social issues on urban communities. According to the museum's website, ACM is dedicated to a mission centered upon contemporary urban communities, to research, documentation, and programming that are community-focused, and which maintains a sense of citizen ownership through active participation.

"We are celebrating the museum's work to promote community cultural engagement as we reach this important milestone and move forward in a new direction," said Camille Giraud Akeju, ACM's director.

In keeping with the evening's theme, "Reclaiming Our Edge: Launching a New Vision," she added that ACM is changing to a broader focus on contemporary urban issues. Later, she explained that the impetus for the shift was the establishment of the National Museum for African American History and Culture and that this new Smithsonian museum will assume the role as "primary vehicle for preserving, interpreting and presenting programs related to the African-American experience."

"We decided that ACM would return to its primary objective - to reflect the history, culture and issues facing urban communities," Akeju said. "This focus will keep the museum relevant and sustainable. It will also allow us to compare these issues, many of which affect the museum's geographic neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, to similar communities around the world and allow us to explore local neighborhoods as part of the global community."

At the gala, guests previewed this new focus through the museum's most recent exhibition, "Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement," which examines citizens' efforts to restore rivers in six urban communities worldwide. The exhibit opens October 15.

For more information on the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum at 1901 Fort Place, SE, visit the website at www.anacostia.si.edu.