Wonderful Women Wednesday: Niani Kilkenny

Each week, the Archives features a woman who has been a groundbreaker at the Smithsonian, past or present, in a series titled Wonderful Women Wednesday.

Niani Kilkenny was director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Program in African American History from 1992 until 2003. She served as the program’s acting director from 1988 to 1989. 

In 1990, Kilkenny proposed the Duke Ellington Youth Project, a program designed to introduce D.C. public high school students to the music and legacy of Duke Ellington by using resources at the National Museum of American History. 

In 1985, she co-edited Juneteenth: A Freedom Celebration of Southwestern Blacks. 

C-SPAN screenshot of Kilkenny from 2003.

Related Collections

  • National Museum of American History. Program in African American Culture, Program Records, 1983-2004, Acc. 06-002, Smithsonian Institution Archives

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