The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, established in 1967 to examine the impact of contemporary social issues on urban communities, has launched the Moments of Resilience online initiative as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By gathering and sharing the stories of everyday people coping with this unprecedented crisis, Moments of Resilience seeks to give voice to the community’s resolve to survive an epidemic that is disproportionately impacting communities of color. The initiative also serves as powerful vehicle for the collecting of real-time documentation of current events, a cornerstone of the museum’s work and identity. Moments of Resilience will join the TakeTimeThursdays Zoom program and the A Right to the City digital exhibit all accessible from the museum’s website at anacostia.si.edu
“The Anacostia Community Museum’s mission is to amplify the collective power of the community,” said Melanie Adams, director of the museum in her video on the pages. “Currently, that collective power is the ability to care for and comfort each other in this time of need.”
The Moments of Resilience initiative highlights and archives stories by residents of urban communities, and particularly those in the Washington D.C, metro area, of how they are helping themselves and each other in a variety of ways during this difficult period. The pages feature accounts such as the Maryland son-in-law noting his family’s relief when their 70+ matriarch recovered from CV-19 against all odds, the double duty commitment expressed by a home health HR specialist who also works part-time as a certified nursing assistant…both essential tasks and the Ward 8 resident frustrated in her weekly effort to find hand soap, because as her snapshot shows, the shelves remain bare. Visitors can browse the gallery for these and other stories featured on the landing page which is updated weekly. They can also view real time posts on the Twitter feed and offer their own tweets through the hashtag #MomentsofResilience.
Through the “share” link on the landing page, visitors are taken to a collection page inviting them to donate their own images, videos and short narratives illustrative of Moments of Resilience to be hosted in the gallery and possibly added to the museum’s collections. The museum is looking for stories of action that offered solace or improve lives now; it will later seek objects documenting the experience.
“The museum has also reached out to local community organizations to have their constituents participate and engage in the website virtual offerings,” said Adams. “We want the ACM community to feel empowered to tell their stories of uncertainty, overcoming and connectedness as a memory for today and an instruction to future generations.”
The Moments of Resilience initiative is the museum’s third online outreach program. Take Time Thursdays—live, half hour Zoom presentations held weekly at 2:30 pm—features people from in the DC region offering advice, conducting workshops, sharing experiences and engaging viewers. Drawn from the fields of business, the arts, mental and physical health, nutrition and social justice, speakers include artist Luis Peralta Del Valle, poet/playwright John A Johnson and landscape/gardening professional Derek Thomas. Interested guests must pre-register for the free programs through the museum website.
Families, educators and students in home quarantine will find useful, the website accessible digital version of A Right to the City, the exhibition in the museum’s closed main gallery, which explores more than five decades of neighborhood change in the nation’s capital as well as the rich history of organizing and civic engagement that accompanied it. The interactive story-map exhibit examines important themes related to gentrification, social history and urban planning. The website education resources page features a middle and high school curricular overview and exhibit lesson plans coinciding with the DC Public School common core standards for social studies and language arts.