Thursday, December 3, 2015

53. Northwest African American Museum: Flying Home with David Nicholson

Fifty three down. Two to go.

The Northwest African American Museum was a great place to spend a long Saturday afternoon learning more about the history of our region and the Black experience in America. 

NAAM seeks to spread knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the "histories, arts and cultures of peoples of African descent." This was evident in the reading I attended at the museum by Washington, D.C. based author David Nicholson. His excellent book Flying Home is a collection of short stories about ordinary men and women in our nation's capital. Described as "sad, wise and funny", it takes us "behind the curtains of race and class that separate us and often hides our common humanity." Mr. Nicholson's wisdom and humanity was certainly evident in the long discussion that followed his reading.

Another way NAAM seeks to accomplish its mission is by presenting the connections between the Pacific Northwest and people of African descent. The museum's exhibits do that in masterful fashion. I particularly enjoyed learning more about the civil rights movement in our region, much of which I witnessed as a kid growing up in Seattle. The museum was also featuring an exhibition of beautiful glass orchids by artist Debora Moore, one of many cultural, artistic and historical exhibitions offered each year in NAAM's  three galleries.

NAAM opened in 2008 and is thriving today, with over 14,000 visitors last year. Its workshops, lectures and community conversations were attended by over 3,400. NAAM also offers space for private events, with a "unique cultural backdrop" available for meetings, weddings and other functions. 

NAAM's vision is broader and more ambitious than just building an outstanding museum - it is about driving change in our region. It seeks a Pacific Northwest where the important histories, arts and cultures of people of African descent are embraced as an essential part of our shared heritage and future. A wonderful goal indeed.

The museum was featuring an exhibit
of glass orchids by artist Debora Moore. 
NAAM tells the story of the civil rights movement in our region through
photographs and multi-media installations.

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