September 24, 2016, marked a signature moment in the history of the United States, when the only national museum devoted to African American history, life and culture opened on the Washington Mall after more than twelve years of planning and development. Following an Act of Congress in 2003, which sought to establish the museum, work to raise funds and develop the museum’s plans began in earnest. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is the nineteenth Smithsonian Institution museum.
The nearly 400,000-square-foot museum documents and showcases the African American experience with more than 36,000 artifacts and interactive exhibits that bring to life the optimism, struggle, spirituality and resiliency in a culture that has played such an integral role in the shaping of America.
In 2011, a museum Advisory Council was formed. Brian Moynihan, Bank of America CEO, became one of its founding members. We would go on to become a founding donor in 2014 and to sponsor the historic opening events that took place throughout the fall of 2016 and first anniversary events in 2017.
Bank of America was an early supporter of the development of the museum. In 2013, we sponsored Save our African American Treasures, a national program dedicated to supporting historians, cultural anthropologists and experts from the art world to identify and preserve items of historical and cultural significance tucked away in the attics, closets and basements of Americans across the country. Recognizing the significance of these artifacts, some owners chose to donate them to the museum, while others benefited from receiving an invaluable education on the meaning, value and proper safekeeping of their treasured possessions.
Through the Art Conservation Project, Bank of America provided funding for the conservation of nine noteworthy works by African American artists. The works are featured in Visual Art and the American Experience, the only permanent art exhibition on the Smithsonian Mall dedicated to illustrating the critical role American artists of African descent played in shaping the history of American art.
We were pleased to donate more than sixty photographs from the Bank of America Collection by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the distinguished artist who documented the unique culture of the Gullah community of Daufuskie Island in South Carolina from 1977 through 1982.