A Different Drummer: John Kinard and the Anacostia Museum

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  • Presented by the authors as a tribute to the life and career of John Kinard, founding director of the Smithsonian Institution's Anacostia Museum, the book is both a biography of Kinard and a history of the museum he headed from 1967 until his death in 1989. The museum was the brainchild of Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley, who in late 1966 made public the Smithsonian's desire to establish an informal, experimental museum in a low-income Washington, D.C., neighborhood in the hope that its local patrons would then be encouraged to expand their horizons to also visit the more traditional Smithsonian museums on The Mall.
  • The Anacostia area in the southeastern part of the city was chosen as the site of the museum, which opened in a renovated theater in September of 1967 under the direction of local activist John Kinard, who became the first African-American director of a Smithsonian museum. Born in 1936, Kinard was a native Washingtonian educated locally before transferring to a North Carolina college where he received his B.A. degree and later earned a divinity degree. His interest in Africa and exploration of how its cultures influenced African-Americans began when he worked with Operation Crossroads Africa in 1962; his passion for learning and sharing experiences on the subject would be reinforced by his many travels to the African continent throughout the ensuing years.
  • Kinard was employed by the U. S. Office of Economic Opportunity and was deeply involved in the improvement of his community when he was encouraged to become the first director of the Anacostia Museum. Kinard was unfamiliar with museums and hesitant at first, but accepted the challenge as he realized the positive impact such a museum could have on his community. Kinard successfully guided the museum through problems ranging from securing funding sources to exhibit display issues, and the museum's success and accolades are results of Kinard's leadership during his tenure.


  • Kinard, John 1936-1989
  • Anacostia Neighborhood Museum
  • Anacostia Community Museum


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Ninety-page book contains numerous black and white photographs; six Appendices, and Notes and Bibliography sections are included.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu




  • Museum buildings
  • Museum finance
  • Education
  • Secretaries
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Employees
  • Museums
  • Clergy
  • African Americans
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees
  • Museums--Educational aspects
  • Museum techniques
  • Museum directors


Washington (D.C.)

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