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Smithsonian to help preserve Atlanta’s African-American history

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This 1956 image of Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr. and baby Yolanda King will be in a new Atlanta History Center exhibition organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. It's not the only event the Smithsonian has going on in Atlanta in coming weeks.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will be in Atlanta next month to help Atlanta learn to preserve its own history and culture.

A one-day program “Save Our African American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative of Discovery and Preservation” includes hands-on tips to help preserve items and oral histories and one-on-one consultations for people who want to learn how to care for small items. (Be clear, though: they’re reviewers, not appraisers. This isn’t “Antiques Roadshow.”)

A Smithsonian Magazine article said more than 150 people turned out to the first “Treasures” event in Chicago in 2008, and some of the objects people brought along are being considered for exhibition in the national museum when it opens in 2015. Here, it described an object one woman brought along:

Superficially, it was a hat: worn, discolored, mundane. It once belonged to a Pullman Company sleeping-car porter, an African-American man—the headpiece to a pristine white uniform. Patricia Heaston got it from a friend, whose father was a porter, more than 30 years ago. Heaston, a clinical psychologist, obsessively collected such keepsakes for decades to better understand how black children develop their self-image….

“In some ways, the little object allows us to tell the great story,” said Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director.

At the Atlanta event, preservation sessions will teach people how to maintain textiles, photographs and paper, how to record and archive the family’s oral history and another to establish an object’s history. Visitors also can record a brief personal memory.

That’s not the only thing the National Museum of African American History and Culture has going on in Atlanta. A new photo exhibition, “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits,” will open at the Atlanta History Center on Jan. 30.

Want to go?

  • “Save Our African American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative of Discovery and Preservation.” 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 6. Free. Auburn Avenue Research Library, 101 Auburn Ave., Atlanta. http://nmaahc.si.edu. People who want a one-on-one consultation for up to three items can make a reservation by calling 877-733-9599, or by e-mailing
    treasures@si.edu.
  • “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits” opens Jan. 30. Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W., Atlanta. 404-814-4000, www.atlantahistorycenter.org.

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[...] History: Save Our African American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative of Discovery and Preservation, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Auburn Avenue Research Library, Atlanta. FREE. Read more. [...]