Through the African American Lens

Explore Selections from the Permanent Collection

On view from May 2015-October 2017, Through the African American Lens demonstrated how the African American story is quintessentially an American one of determination, faith, perseverance, pride, and resilience.

The exhibition featured some of the more than 33,000 artifacts that have been collected by the Museum since its creation in 2003. Through the African American Lens is the Museum’s eighth exhibition and is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.The exhibition’s three sections—history, culture, and community—reflect the thematic strands of the new museum.

Exhibition Experience

History

Learn about families and individuals who achieved success under difficult circumstances.

Community

Examine how African Americans improved their circumstances – and continue to – through formal and informal institutions that served as beacons of hope, strength, and support.

Culture

Celebrate the bountiful creative expressions – from literature, theatre, music, and visual art, and dance – that have influenced society.

Through the African American Lens is made possible in large part by the many individuals who have generously donated artifacts, which now constitute the building blocks of the Museum. Covering topics such as education, military service, popular culture, religion, sports, and visual arts, these artifacts demonstrate how the African American story is quintessentially an American one of determination, faith, perseverance, pride, and resilience. The exhibition’s three sections—history, culture, and community—reflect the thematic strands of the new museum.

I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes American poet, novelist, and playwright

Explore All Exhibition Objects