The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will debut a major, thought-provoking new exhibition, “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures,” March 24, 2023. A highlight of the exhibition is the Black Panther hero costume worn by the late Chadwick Boseman. The Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream American comics, and the film itself is the first major cinematic production based on the character.
Per the press release: Investigating Afrofuturist expression through art, music, activism and more, this exhibition explores and reveals Afrofuturism’s historic and poignant engagement with African American history and popular culture. From the enslaved looking to the cosmos for freedom to popular sci-fi stories inspiring Black astronauts, to the musical influence of Sun Ra, OutKast, P-Funk and more, this exhibition covers the broad and impactful spectrum of Afrofuturism.
Through the 4,300-square-foot temporary exhibition, visitors will view a variety of objects from Afrofuturism pioneers, including Octavia Butler’s typewriter, Nichelle Nichols’ Star Trek uniform as the character Lt. Nyoto Uhura and Nona Hendryx’s spacesuit-inspired costume worn while performing with LaBelle.
A highlight of the exhibition is the Black Panther hero costume worn by the late Chadwick Boseman. The Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream American comics, and the film itself is the first major cinematic production based on the character.
The exhibition also utilizes select objects to elevate stories that speak to Black liberation and social equality, such as Trayvon Martin’s flight suit from Experience Aviation, and his childhood dream of being an astronaut.
“Trayvon Martin’s flight suit tells the story of a dream of space flight ended tragically by earthbound violence,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “We are honored to tell more of Trayvon’s story, exploring his love of flight and mechanics and his fondness for science and technology. Afrofuturism charts the joy of a rich, imagined future, often in the face of injustice.”
Since its opening in 2016, NMAAHC has supported conversations, collections and initiatives surrounding Afrofuturism. “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures” will be on view in the museum’s Bank of America Special Exhibitions Gallery from March 24, 2023, through March 2024. For more details about the new exhibition and to sign up for additional updates, visit the museum’s Afrofuturism website.
About the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than 8.5 million in-person visitors and millions more through its digital presence. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. For more information about the museum, visit nmaahc.si.edu follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.