The Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA) is the Museum’s home of visual culture and innovation. Through its changing exhibitions, public programs, and publications, CAAMA showcases the formation of African American history and culture through media arts, including photography, film, video, and audio recordings.

The CAAMA gallery is located on the Museum’s 2nd floor and contains rotating temporary media arts exhibitions.

Collection Highlights

CAAMA holds the largest collection of objects in the museum, including more than 25,000 photographs and time-based media such as film, video, and audio recordings.

St. Clair Bourne, “Alice Coltrane,” “Black Journal,” 1970. A 16mm color film print of a short documentary made for a segment of National Education Television's “Black Journal” television program. The segment focuses on the life of Alice Coltrane and her children in the wake of the death of her husband, famed jazz musician John Coltrane.

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Pearl Bowser

This film is from a collection of home movies filmed by the family of Michael Holman, an important figure in the history of hip hop. The collection predominately contains family vacation footage shot when Holman's father, Lt. Thomas Holman, was stationed in Europe with the US Army.

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
A digital, black-and-white image of Janelle Monáe performing "Hell You Talmbout" during a Black Lives Matter "Say Her Name" protest in Atlanta, Georgia. Monáe is standing left of center. Felecia Christian, on the right is holding a white protest sign in front of her with black, handwritten marker text that reads [#What happened to / ALEXIA CHRISTIAN / #SAY HER NAME / #STOPKILLINGUS!].

"Say Her Name" protest, artist Janelle Monae and Wondaland Records members perform "Hell You Talmbout" protest song, Atlanta, GA, 2016. Photograph by Sheila Pree Bright. 

Gift of Sheila Pree Bright, © Sheila Pree Bright
A carte-de-visite of Harriet Tubman seated in an interior room. She is positioned slightly turned to the right and gazes off camera. Her right hand rests on the back of a wooden chair and her left hand rests in her lap. A boldly patterned carpet covers the floor and the wall or drop behind her is a blank light color. Tubman wears a black bodice that buttons at the center front and has dropped sleeves with heavy ruching and ruffled details on the sleeves. There is a panel of lighter fabric around the yoke, w

Carte-de-visite portrait of Harriet Tubman

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture shared with the Library of Congress; Photograph by Benjamin F. Powelson; Owned by Emily Howland

Recent Exhibitions

CAAMA’s most recent exhibition, Now Showing: Posters from African American Movies, was on view from November 22, 2019 – December 5, 2021.

A lobby card with a color image of a woman on the right side with wavy brown hair and a blue top with green pants sitting with her left hand up to her mouth. Another woman on the left has curly hair and is wearing a brimmed hat, pearl earrings, a brown dress, gloves, and a fur stole. There is a blue box below it with white text that reads [CLAUDETTE / Colbert / in / Fannie Hurst’s GREAT NOVEL / IMITATION of LIFE].

Now Showing

Now Showing: Posters from African American Movies explores the art of movie posters, specifically examining films by black filmmakers or works featuring black performers. The exhibition is on view from November 22, 2019 – December 5, 2021.

Exhibition Website about Now Showing

Past Exhibitions

A graphic logo that says [Represent: Hip-Hop Photography] in white font with the colors purple, green, blue and orange in the background.


“Represent: Hip-Hop Photography,” paired hip-hop images with historical photos to highlight connections between the popular art form and its relationship to historical figures, social movements, and creative moments.
Exhibition Website about Represent
Photograph of a man wearing glasses standing in front of a long electronic table with photographs on it. The walls of the room are red and have numerous framed photographs on them.

Everyday Beauty

“Everyday Beauty: Photographs and Films from the Permanent Collection” showed the power of media arts in documenting African Americans’ everyday lives, challenging negative perceptions, and promoting social reform.
Exhibition Website about Everyday Beauty

Public Programs

CAAMA hosts a variety of ongoing public programs celebrating and exploring African American media arts including screenings, the Cinema + Conversation film series, the Smithsonian African American Film Festival, and symposia.

Photograph of the four women in profile in an audience looking straight ahead.

Upcoming Programs

Although CAAMA does not currently have any on-site programs due to the Museum’s limited capacity, the center is hosting programs online that are open to the public.
Digital Programs about Upcoming Programs
Photograph of a man wearing a suit and sunglasses and a woman wearing short sleeves and a necklace sitting in a crowd.


CAAMA hosts free public screenings of a wide array of works, which are sometimes followed by discussions. Screenings are held in the 350-seat Oprah Winfrey Theater on the Museum's the concourse level.
Past Programs about Screenings
Photograph of five men sitting on a stage in front of a purple background with a large green W. One of the men is speaking into a microphone and four of the men are holding mics.

Cinema + Conversation

Cinema + Conversation is a free public film series that celebrates African American moving images. It brings museum curators and critically acclaimed filmmakers together to watch and discuss works by African American artists.
Past Programs about Cinema + Conversation
Assorted film and audio tape reels inside of a metal 35mm film canister.

Great Migration Home Movie Project

The Great Migration Home Movie Project is a digitization program where visitors make a free appointment to bring collections of home movies, videos, tapes, and audio recordings to the museum to be preserved and digitized.
Learn More about Great Migration Home Movie Project
Photograph of a man in an orange suit, a woman in a cream dress, and another woman in a peach gown.

Smithsonian African American Film Festival

The inaugural Smithsonian African American Film Festival was a multi-day event containing over 80 films that celebrated African American visual culture. The events included Screenings, Post Screening Conversations, and Exchanges.
Learn More about Smithsonian African American Film Festival
A tintype depicting three young women seated and facing the camera against a square orange background. The woman in the center wears a dark-colored dress with a lighter printed design and holds a box or a thick book in her lap. The woman at the right side wears a light-colored overdress with dark floral print design and a light-colored skirt. The woman at the left side wears a white muslin blouse and apron over a light-colored skirt.


CAAMA hosts a range of free, public symposia with topics ranging from imagery in advertising to early photography. These events delve deeply into topics through presentations and conversations with scholars and subject experts.
Learn More about Symposia


Front Cover of Vol. VI Everyday Beauty

“Double Exposure” Series

Double Exposure, a multi-volume series based on the Museum's photography collection, explores inaugural exhibition themes. Each of the seven volumes features about 50 photographs, a foreword by Founding Director Lonnie Bunch, and an essay by a topic specialist.

Volume Titles:

I. Through the African American Lens
II. Civil Rights and the Promise of Equality
III. African American Women
IV. Picturing Children
V. Fighting for Freedom
VI. Everyday Beauty
VII. Pictures with Purpose


Learn More about “Double Exposure” Series
The power of photographs is not only the ability to depict events, but to bring human scale to those experiences. Lonnie G. Bunch III Founding Director

The CAAMA Collection

Explore our collection of images, film, and audio.

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