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'America I AM' stopping at National Geographic

An exhibition about the history of African Americans, developed by broadcaster and best-selling author Tavis Smiley, will make its Washington debut at the National Geographic Museum in February.

"America I AM: the African American Imprint," contains more than 200 artifacts, photographs and documents and explores 400 years of contributions in economic, socio-political, cultural and religious arenas. That's a big order.


Prince's "symbol" guitar. (Courtesy: National Geographic Society)

For the second time the Geographic will charge admission for an exhibition. In 2009 and 2010 the museum instituted a fee and timed tickets for a traveling show of 15 Terra Cotta Warriors, the extraordinary find in China. At that time the museum also expanded its exhibition space to 12,000 square feet to make room for the priceless statues and for the steady crowds that materialized.

"America I AM" will be featured in the same space. Bringing in traveling shows is an expensive undertaking, acknowledged a Geographic spokeswoman.

This show was organized by two arts entities, the Cincinnati Museum Center and Arts and Exhibitions International, and cost a reported $14 million for the 10-city, four-year tour.

In the show are dungeon doors from the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, the departure point for many slave ships, the key to the cell where Rev. Martin L. King, Jr. wrote "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and Alex Haley's typewriter.

It opens Feb. 2 and continues through May 1. Tickets are available through www.ngmuseum.org. and range from $6 to $12.

By Jacqueline Trescott  | October 27, 2010; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  Jacqueline Trescott, Museums  | Tags:  African American History, D.C. Tavis Smiley, National Geographic Museum, Washington  
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