Washington, DC, USA (May 13, 2013) — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has acquired a slave cabin from the first half of the 19th century, currently located at Point of Pines Plantation on Edisto Island, S.C. The Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society donated it to the museum after receiving it originally from the Burnet Maybank family, the current owners of the plantation.
Starting Monday, May 13, the one-story, rectangular, weatherboard-clad cabin will be dismantled piece by piece at its current location, removed from the Point of Pines Plantation and transferred to the NMAAHC collection. Smithsonian representatives will be present during the deconstruction to conduct additional research on the structure and those who lived there.
“Slavery is one of the most important episodes in American history, but it is often the least understood,” said Lonnie Bunch, founding director of NMAAHC. “By exhibiting this cabin NMAAHC will ensure that the rich, complex and difficult story of the enslaved will be made accessible for the millions who will visit the museum.”
“The Point of Pines slave cabin will help us share the living history of a place and the resilience of the people, who, in the darkest days of slavery, built the cabin, cleared the land, worked in the fields and raised their families there,” said Nancy Bercaw, NMAAHC curator. “The cabin will be one of the jewels of the museum positioned at its center to tell the story of slavery and freedom within its walls.”
“We are thrilled to be able to share an important part of Edisto Island’s rich history with the millions of visitors who will visit this new museum,” said Gretchen Smith, director of Edisto Island Historical Preservation Society. “This is a story that needs to be told, and we know the Smithsonian will do a wonderful job of telling it.”
The reconstructed cabin will be on view in the “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition when the museum opens in 2015. This exhibition will focus on the crucial role slavery played in the making of America and its impact on generations of enslaved Africans and their descendants.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established by an Act of Congress in 2003 making it the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Scheduled for completion in 2015, it is under construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on a five-acre tract adjacent to the Washington Monument. Currently, the museum is hosting public programs, assembling collections and presenting exhibitions at other museums across the country and at its own gallery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.