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SavArtScene: Savannah museums turn focus to African-American history, offer free day

The opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in September 2016 in Washington, D.C., was a crowning achievement for the museum world.

On Aug. 20, the NMAAHC is promoting a nationwide free museum day as part of its Lift Every Voice initiative, which is meant to “showcase the depth and breadth of African American history and culture across the nation and around the world.”

Below are the participating Savannah museums which will be free and open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 20. Even if you’re unable to visit the museums then, they’re more than worthy of your patronage any other day of the year.

Telfair Museums’ Owens-Thomas House, 124 Abercorn St. Telfair recently received a grant of $250,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to “continue its ongoing preservation and new reinterpretation” of the Owens-Thomas House site. The site is one of only 12 museums in the country to get NEH grant money in this funding cycle. The Owens-Thomas House is one of the oldest and best preserved urban slave quarters in the South and the funding will help them enhance their visitor experience by implementing new educational components and state-of-the-art elements to their tours.

Owens-Thomas House tours focus on the lives of the enslaved people who lived on the site, and as Telfair’s curator of history and decorative arts Shannon Browning-Mullis is quoted as saying, “We will never move beyond the problems facing our community and nation, like economic inequality, mass incarceration, and police brutality, until we understand the roots of inequality in America. At the Owens-Thomas House, we hope an honest and specific investigation of the institution of slavery and the people who lived within it, both free and enslaved, will help us toward that understanding.” More info on related programing can be found at

Davenport House Museum, 324 E. State…

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