IBM audio cast with the National Museum of African American History and Culture

WASHINGTON D.C - 11 Sep 2008: Unlike most museums that begin as a physical building, the National Museum of African American History and Culture(NMAAHC) is using innovative technology on the Web to become as real as concrete now for online visitors. A new IBM audio cast explores the progress of the Smithsonian’s newest museum since its virtual opening one year ago, and how technology is playing a key role in shaping the museum’s content.

"The museum on the Web allows us to test ideas, research, exhibits and the kind of artifacts we want to collect so that when the bricks and mortar are up, it is the innovative 21st century museum that we want,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of NMAAHC.

In this audio cast, Mr. Bunch and Stanley Litow, IBM Vice President for Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs discuss why anyone with relevant history should participate in a unique feature called the Memory Book.

“Using the latest in social networking technology, IBM created the Memory Book to allow virtual museum visitors to upload his or her memory or story so that it can be shared with those that are developing the museum’s content, as well as other visitors, family and friends,” said Mr. Litow.

In addition to capturing stories that might otherwise be lost, it also pictorially displays the relationships between people, places and historical events. For example, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown shares an audio memoir of growing up in a “separate but equal” school. Jackson B remembers rolling Easter eggs at the National Zoo in Washington in the 1930s. Kelvin B. Fowler writes a story telling how his great-great grandfather escaped slavery by hitching a boat ride with a group of fisherman and sailing to freedom in Virginia.

The museum will staff a memory-posting table during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 38th Annual Legislative Conference to gather stories from members of congress, their staff and conference participants. The memory posting service will be available during three days of the conference at the Washington Convention Center: Thursday, Sept. 25 from noon until 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

About the NationalMuseum of African American History and Culture:
The National Museum of African American History and Culture was created by an Act of Congress in 2003, making it the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Its collections and educational programming will cover topics as varied as slavery, post-Civil War reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights movement. In addition to staging a national tour of its inaugural exhibition, “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits,” the museum is producing scholarly books and compact disc recordings, conducting a national collecting initiative called Save Our African American Treasures, and offering programming across the country and in five target cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. The museum will be built on a five-acre site adjacent to the Washington Monument on the National Mall. It is scheduled to open in 2015.

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