Alan Morrison, Coordinator of the Westminster-Smithsonian Colloquium attended the grand opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington DC.

On 24 September the Smithsonian Institution’s newest museum was opened with speeches from President Barack Obama and the museum’s Founding Director Lonnie G Bunch III. The opening ceremony also included contributions from Civil Rights pioneer, Congressman John Lewis, Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder.

Lonnie Bunch has worked closely with Alan Morrison and the University of Westminster as part of the Westminster-Smithsonian Colloquium since the 1990s delivering public lectures and seminars in collaboration with several leading London museums. In spring 2017 the University of Westminster is planning a London festival programme to celebrate the opening of the NMAAHC.

The day before the ceremony Alan, and his wife Wendy Morrison were given a personal tour of the museum by Lonnie Bunch. Speaking about his visit Alan said: “It was a great honour to be part of this historic event. The Museum tells a very powerful story of resilience, courage and creativity. The African American experience is presented as an integral part of American history and life. The Museum demonstrates that an understanding of history and an engagement with contemporary challenges go hand in hand.”

Lonnie Bunch with Alan and Wendy Morrison during private tour
Lonnie Bunch with Alan and Wendy Morrison during their private museum tour

During the Washington DC visit, meetings were also held with other Smithsonian colleagues, including Dr Arthur Daemmrich, Director of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation; Dr Joyce Bedi, Senior Historian at the Lemelson Center; Dr Peter Jakab, Senior Curator at the National Air and Space Museum, and also with Phyllis Hecht, Director of the Johns Hopkins University’s Master program in Museum Studies.

The University of Westminster has a long-established history of collaborating with Smithsonian museums, including the Lemelson Center at the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum, which has resulted in a programme of over 60 events in London and Washington DC, including scholar visits, public programmes, student workshops and research projects.

Most notably, a programme celebrating the founding of the Nobel Prize, a public forum entitled ‘Crossing Boundaries – Promoting Innovation and Creativity’, and the International Eco-Cities Initiative, a multi-national research network coordinated by scholars at the University of Westminster, the Johns Hopkins University and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center.

A Westminster delegation, headed by Professor Alexandra Hughes, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement), will be discussing ongoing and future collaborations with the Smithsonian Institution and the Johns Hopkins University during a forthcoming visit to the United States in December.

Read more about our global engagement strategy and US partnerships.



President Barack Obama's Grand Opening Dedication at the NMAAHC

President Barack Obama's delivers the Grand Opening Dedication to celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

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