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A&S Graduate Student Helped Build Soundtrack for New African-American Museum

Published October 10, 2016 in News

By: Caroline Newman | University Communications

Among the many historic artifacts and stories on display when the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture opens this weekend, visitors will be treated to exhibits celebrating 400 years of African-American music, many of them carefully researched and curated by University of Virginia Ph.D. student Steven Lewis.

Lewis, who studies jazz and secular African-American music in the McIntire Department of Music as an Edgar Shannon Jefferson Fellow, joined the museum as an intern last summer and was hired as a research assistant to Dwandalyn Reece, the curator for music and performing arts. He has spent much of the past year doing research and editorial work for the “Musical Crossroads” exhibit, housed on the fourth floor of the new museum.

Since it was established by an Act of Congress in 2003, the museum has been a highly anticipated addition to the Smithsonian Institutions. As its three distinctive tiers began to take shape on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., its curators scoured the country building a collection from scratch. They gathered more than 36,000 artifacts chronicling African-American history, ranging from somber reminders of slavery and civil rights struggles to pieces celebrating achievements in research, politics, art, athletics and more.

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