Curating a National Black Theater Museum

In Spring 2019, the Curating a National Black Theater Museum class, taught by Dr. Monica Ndounou, Associate Professor of Theater, focused on black theater history and legacy. For Stephanie Everett '19, the class was "about reconciling what kinds of black art we have lost and what we have kept, what has made it into mainstream museums, what has made it to Broadway, and how we can positively impact and educate others about everything that is out there."

Students spent the term learning about different eras in black theater history before going on a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The students spent a weekend exploring the museum, which focuses on African Americans lives, history, and culture from the earliest days of enslaved Africans brought to colonial America up through present day and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Jelinda Metelus '22 said that the trip, "had the same effect on me as this class did just realizing that as a black person who's getting an education in America that there are so many things that I don't want to even say that are kept from us, because I genuinely believe that people don't know [them.] I got two days to learn about people who looked like me because Professor Ndounou made sure that it would happen."

The students worked with Morgan Swan, Rauner Special Collections Education and Outreach Librarian, to learn about the curation process and then created their own exhibit, "Experiencing Black Theater in America," which was on display in the library throughout summer 2019.

The course received a seed grant from DCAL's Experiential Learning Initiative.