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50th Anniversary Gala

National Museum of African Art November 7, 2014 Our signature event celebrates not only the museum’s 50th anniversary, but the opening of a very special exhibition, Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue, featuring works from the collections of the National Museum of African Art and Drs. Camille and Bill Cosby. Guests to the […]

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Applications are being accepted for the Travel to Collections award

The Smithsonian Libraries invites teachers and educators to apply for a Travel to Collections award for 2015 at the Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art. The Neville-Pribram Mid-Career Educators Award supports research visits up the three months for middle school, high school, and college teachers as well as museum educators. […]

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50 Years of African Art in the Capital
The piece that started it all

The first object in the museum’s collection was an ikegobo, or “shrine of the hand,” which honors the hard-earned accomplishments of a lifetime. With the gift of this ikegobo, founding director Warren M. Robbins launched a museum—our museum—that is now home to more than 12,000 artworks. Carved in relief along the cylindrical form of this […]

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Conversation between Maya Angelou and NMAfA Director Johnnetta B. Cole at the unveiling of Dr. Angelou’s portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.

In collaboration with Smithsonian colleagues from the National Museum of African Art, the National Portrait Gallery hosted an event on Saturday, April 5, in which both museums paid tribute to Maya Angelou, one of the most revered poets in the United States. Angelou, whose eighty-sixth birthday was April 4—the day before—commented on what she considered […]

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Biography of Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou Born: Marguerite Johnson, April 4, 1928, St. Louis, Missouri Education: Attended public school in Stamps, Arkansas and San Francisco, California PUBLICATIONS: AUTOBIOGRAPHIES RANDOM HOUSE & BANTAM BOOKS I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1970 – On February 26, 1995, Bantam Books congratulated Maya Angelou for being the first African-American to be the […]

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When Great Trees Fall


by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
 rocks on distant hills shudder,
 lions hunker down
 in tall grasses,
 and even elephants
 lumber after safety.

 When great trees fall
 in forests,
 small things recoil into silence,
 their senses
 eroded beyond fear.

 When great souls die,
 the air around us becomes
 light, rare, sterile.
 We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly,
 […]

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Mourning the Passing of Dr. Maya Angelou
1928–2014

NMAfA Director Johnnetta B. Cole reflects A singular voice has, today, passed from our midst. We were privileged to have known her, honored to have called her friend. It is with deep sorrow that we acknowledge the passing of Maya Angelou, one of the most renowned and influential individuals of our time. To the world, […]

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