Collection Spotlight

Wakanda to Smithsonian

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company, © Marvel

Black Panther’s hero costume is coming to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture! The museum acquired several objects from the record-breaking film Black Panther, including the hero costume worn by actor Chadwick Boseman; a shooting script signed by Ryan Coogler (co-writer; director), Kevin Feige (producer, president of Marvel Studios), Nate Moore (executive producer) and Joe Robert Cole (co-writer; producer); two pages of spec script; and 24 high-resolution production photographs.

Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream American comics, and the film itself is the first major cinematic production based on the character. Black Panther illustrates the progression of blacks in film, an industry that in the past has overlooked blacks, or regulated them to flat, one-dimensional and marginalized figures. The film, like the museum, provides a fuller story of black culture and identity.

The Black Panther objects were acquired when the museum’s Earl W. & Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA) hosted a public screening of the film at the museum in February. CAAMA showcases the museum’s dynamic image collection through a changing exhibition program of still and moving images, publications, and public programs, and will host its inaugural Smithsonian African American Film Festival (SAAFF) in October. 

The origin story of the Black Panther character started in the late 1960s, during the height of the civil rights movement – a critical period in American history and an era that the museum explores in many of its exhibitions.