FORT LAUDERDALE – A two-day program to help South Florida residents identify and preserve items of historical and cultural significance tucked away in their attics, closets and garages has been brought to the city by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Broward County African-American Research Library and Cultural Center.
The event will feature presentations, hands-on activities and preservation tips.
The program is Saturday, Jan. 11, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 12, from noon to 5:30 p.m., at the library, located at 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
Free and open to the public, the event is called “Save Our African-American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative of Discovery and Preservation.” It is the 14th in a series held across the country since 2008.
Participants are invited to bring up to three personal items for a 15-minute, professional consultation with experts on how to care for them. The specialists will serve as reviewers, not appraisers, and will not determine items’ monetary values. Objects such as books, photographs, ceramics, metalwork and textiles no larger than a shopping bag (furniture, carpets, weapons and paintings are excluded) can be reviewed. Additional information is available at nmaahc.si.edu or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 877-733-9599.
“We are extremely proud of bringing ‘Save Our African-American Treasures’ to South Florida and of our partnership with the Broward County Libraries Division,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian museum. “We must encourage citizens of South Florida to become aware of what they have, to protect it and to preserve it so the story of African Americans in this country can be told. Citizens hold the 19th- and 20th-century objects — family photographs, military uniforms, farm tools and wedding dresses — that can help tell this story for future generations. If we do not act now to preserve these items, the tangible evidence of a critical component of American history will be lost.”
“Broward County Library is honored to partner with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of
African American History and Culture to bring this exciting and important event to our community,” said Skye Patrick, director of the Broward County Libraries Division. “The preservation of artifacts, documents, pictures — the very history of South Florida’s African-American community’s struggles, triumphs and everyday lives — is crucial to present a balanced view of our shared past.”
The “Treasures” program also includes the following activities throughout the day:
• Black Broward Speaks: A presentation from three local repositories on how each acquired, preserved and made accessible an extensive collection of photographs of African Americans in Broward County, dating as far back as the 1890s. Photographs depict the agricultural past, civil rights struggles, thriving businesses communities and social life.
• Preservation Presentations: Informal basic preservation sessions will take place during the day. The sessions will provide information on disaster planning, preserving clothing and textiles, as well as family photographs and papers. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.
• Hands-on Preservation: In this hands-on activity, participants are invited to learn how to properly store letters, pack garments and prepare photographs for preservation storage and presentation.
“Save Our African American Treasures” is made possible with support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The grants also support the pre- design and construction of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., scheduled to open in 2015.
As a companion to the series, the museum has produced African American Treasures: A Preservation Guide, a 30-page guidebook that is distributed free to attendees to highlight the importance of proper preservation techniques. The guidebook is part of the “Treasures” kit. Also distributed will be white cotton gloves, archival tissue papers and archival document sleeves to help people keep
their personal treasures safe.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established in 2003 by an Act of Congress, making it the 19th Smithsonian Institution museum. Scheduled for completion in 2015, the building is under construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the Washington Monument. The museum is currently producing publications, hosting public programs and assembling collections. It is presenting exhibitions at other museums across the country and at its own gallery at the National Museum of American History.
For other information about the museum, visit nmaahc.si.edu or call Smithsonian information at 202-633-1000.