Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture Unveils "Reclaiming My Time" Exhibition Celebrating Black Design

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 4/26/2024, 2:04 p.m.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington D.C. is set to enrich its Visual Arts Gallery with an exciting new addition. On Friday, May 31, the museum will launch "Reclaiming My Time," a groundbreaking exhibition dedicated to contemporary Black designers. This unique showcase, highlighting pieces that span seating, lighting, photography, and graphic design, aims to explore the profound narratives intertwined with rest, repose, and the historical contexts of labor and leisure within the Black community.

"Reclaiming My Time," curated in the museum's 300-square-foot space, is inspired by the spirited phrase popularized by Congresswoman Maxine Waters in 2017, symbolizing a refusal to have one's time wasted. The exhibition aligns with this theme by emphasizing the critical role of rest as an essential element of resilience and resistance. It features an impressive collection of 15 objects, including innovative seating designs from notable designers such as Jomo Tariku, Gail Anderson, and Norman Teague, each piece narrating stories of cultural significance and everyday utility.

Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the NMAAHC, expressed his enthusiasm for the exhibition, noting, "The rich history and ongoing excellence of Black design are prominently featured in our museum. With 'Reclaiming My Time,' we highlight this form of Black creativity, underscoring the importance of rest and restoration in building resilience."

The exhibition not only showcases the physical objects but also invites visitors to ponder broader themes related to design, rest, and self-reflection. It includes a selection of books that deepen the visitor's understanding of these concepts, including Tricia Hersey's "Rest Is Resistance," which ties perfectly into the exhibition's theme.

"Reclaiming My Time" is strategically located within the "Reckoning" gallery, providing a thematic connection that weaves together resistance and resilience. This thoughtful placement encourages a dialogue between the two exhibitions, enriching the visitor's experience as they explore the interplay of art, culture, and social activism.

The exhibition is set to run for one year, during which it will host a variety of rotating displays that further delve into themes of design and architecture. Supported generously by CBRE, "Reclaiming My Time" promises to be a pivotal space for learning, reflection, and appreciation of the contributions of Black designers to the broader tapestry of American culture.

For more information about "Reclaiming My Time" and other exhibitions, visitors are encouraged to explore the NMAAHC's website at This exhibition is a must-visit for anyone interested in the intersections of design, history, and cultural expression in the African American community.