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Smithsonian and Historical Society of Washington to Present “Save Our African American Treasures” Nov. 8 and 9


The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., will co-host a daylong program to help residents in the District, Maryland and Virginia area identify and preserve items of historical and cultural significance tucked away in their attics, closets, basements and garages. The event will feature presentations, hands-on activities and preservation tips.

The program will take place Saturday, Nov. 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday Nov. 9, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Carnegie Library, located at 801 K Street N.W. in Washington. Free and open to the public, the event is called “Save Our African American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative of Discovery and Preservation.” It is the 16th in a series held across the country since 2008. All are welcome.                    

Participants are invited to bring up to three personal items for a 15-minute, professional consultation with experts on how to care for them. The specialists will serve as reviewers, not appraisers, and will not determine items’ monetary values. Objects such as books, photographs, ceramics, metalwork and textiles no larger than a shopping bag (furniture, carpets, weapons and paintings are excluded) can be reviewed. Additional information is available at or by emailing or calling (877) 733-9599.

“I am so pleased to conduct the ‘Treasures’ program in our hometown, Washington, D.C., and of our partnership with the Historical Society,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the museum. “D.C.’s history is molded by the African American experience. From the slave trade and the Civil War to the Northern Migration and the civil rights movement, Washington has played a central role in the story of African Americans in the United States. We encourage citizens of the area to become aware of what they have, to protect it and to preserve it so the story of African Americans in this country can be told.”

“Our partnership with the newest of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums on this program is very timely as we expand the Society’s programs, and it is an important step in our efforts to engage with the city’s diverse communities,” said John Suau, executive director of the 120-year-old Historical Society. “Our role in providing quality programming that assists D.C. residents with preserving our history is one that HSW takes very seriously; I expect we will find great treasures from here in our own community. We look forward to continued partnerships with the Smithsonian Institution to utilize the expertise that professionals provide in our local galleries, libraries, archives and museums.”         

The “Treasures” program also includes the following activities throughout the day:

  • Preservation Presentations: Informal basic preservation sessions will take place during the day. The sessions will provide information on preserving clothing and textiles, as well as family photographs and papers. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions. Visit for a presentations schedule.
  • Hands-on Preservation: In this hands-on activity, participants are invited to learn how to properly store letters, pack garments and prepare photographs for preservation storage and presentation.  

“Save Our African American Treasures” is made possible with support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The grants also support the pre-design and construction of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., scheduled to open in 2016.

As a companion to the series, the museum has produced African American Treasures: A Preservation Guide, a 30-page guidebook that is distributed free to attendees to highlight the importance of proper preservation techniques. The guidebook is part of the “Treasures” kit. Also distributed will be white cotton gloves, archival tissue papers and archival document sleeves to help people keep their personal treasures safe.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established in 2003 by an Act of Congress, making it the 19th Smithsonian Institution museum. Scheduled for completion in 2016, the building is under construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the Washington Monument. The museum is currently producing publications, hosting public programs and assembling collections. It is presenting exhibitions at other museums across the country and at its own gallery at the National Museum of American History. For more information about the museum, visit or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. is a community-supported, educational and research organization that collects, interprets and shares the history of our nation’s capital. Founded in 1894 the society serves a diverse audience through its collections, public programs, exhibitions and publications. Headquartered in the historic Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square, the Society’s galleries and research library are open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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