By Susan Hildreth
This year two important American traditions will be observed on the same day. On January 21, 2013, we will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the 57th presidential inauguration as President Barack Obama is sworn in for his second term.
One of the ways in which museums and libraries serve as community anchors is providing a place for shared experiences that help to weave us together as a nation. Many of our institutions are doing just that.
Museums and libraries across the country are bringing their communities together offering free or discounted admission, online exhibits, and viewing parties. Here are a few ways that museums and libraries across the country are celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. and Inauguration Day.
- View online museum exhibits about the modern Presidents on the NEH-funded The Presidential Timeline of the Twentieth Century.
- Library of Congress has a database with portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies. It also has collected images and speeches from Inaugurations.
- View images from the Smithsonian’s exhibit The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden.
- Take a look at gowns worn by First Ladies at Inauguration Ceremonies and other presidential functions at the website for the Smithsonian’s The First Ladies. See Michelle Obama’s dress and accessories from the 2009 inauguration.
The Flint Public Library, recipient of the 2005 National Medal for Museum and Library services, has become known as the place in their community to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The library began its celebration in 1985, before it became a holiday in 1986. This year it will be hosting a craft event where children and families can decorate a “hand heart” to celebrate peace and brotherhood, followed by the main celebration featuring an “I Have a Dream” speech presentation and musical performances.
In Wichita, Kansas, the Kansas African American Museum will host its 34th annual three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, focusing on the theme “Message in the Music” by pairing civil rights music with King’s message. Events include a parade on Jan. 19, a community gathering at the museum on Jan. 20, leading up to a day of community service on the Monday holiday.
If your institution is hosting a special event, please let us know.