The Anacostia Community Museum’s mission focuses on contemporary urban communities and maintains a particular focus on Washington, D. C., neighborhoods located east of the Anacostia River. At the core of the museum’s work is the belief that active citizen participation in the recovery and use of cultural and historical assets is an important and powerful instrument in creating and maintaining a sense of community and civic ownership. The Anacostia Community Museum undertakes a number of research initiatives and exhibition projects each year. Museum research activities focus on the following four broad areas of inquiry, which visitors can explore below.
- Urban Studies – What is the lived experience of people in urban environments?
- Cultural Encounters – What is the impact of the migration of people, ideas, technology, and material culture on urban populations?
- Urban Ecology – What are the relationships between the constructed environment and the natural environment?
- Urban Arts – How is the cultural expression of diverse urban populations manifested? What is the significance of the cultural expression of diverse urban populations?
- Technological Change – How does technology affect the ways in which people interact and communicate?
Since its opening in 1967, the ACM has collected historical materials on the neighborhoods located east of the Anacostia River (EOR); it has acquired significant collections of artifacts, documents, and photographs. Founded and located within a residential, low/mixed income, largely African American community, the museum has always focused on documenting community history and cultural traditions.
The ACM is developing a long term research and educational initiative that focuses on urban environments. The initiative connects scholars, researchers, and community activists exploring ways to establish the fullest context and understanding of issues facing urban communities and environments. The project brings together those who share interests in environmental justice, civic engagement, ecological conservation, and community development.
From its inception the museum’s mission has been inextricably tied to urban communities. Today, urban residents are seeing and experiencing a great deal of change, including changes in the demographic composition of U.S. cities and towns, and an increasing number and significance of cultural encounters between members of different ethnic and cultural communities.
The ACM has launched a long-term curatorial initiative that explores arts and creativity through arts exhibitions and installations, museum collections, and community-focused programs. The initiative assists curatorial staff in developing an overall community-focused approach to art and creativity and coordinates the museum’s ongoing documentation of local and neighborhood artists and creators.
Technological Change is concerned with the impact of technology on people in urban environments. It explores the city itself as a technology that facilitates culture and the technology of the community museum as a site of discourse and empowerment.