Symposium on National Museum of African American History and Culture to be Held at U.Va.

January 11, 2012 — "Re-Imagining the Public Realm: The Design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture," a multidisciplinary symposium being organized as part of the University of Virginia's Martin Luther King Jr. observance,  will be held Jan. 23 at U.Va.'s  School of Architecture.

The symposium will explore the unique challenges and opportunities of representing African-American history and culture on the National Mall, and will be followed by a lecture, "Current Museum Projects," by Philip Freelon, architect of the Museum of African American History and Culture.

The event is being organized by Department of Architecture faculty member Craig Barton, American Studies Program and Corcoran Department of History professor Grace Hale, and graduate architecture student Lauren Begen.

The symposium begins at 2 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 158, with a panel discussion featuring Marcel Acosta, executive director of National Capital Planning Commission; Philip Freelon, principal of The Freelon Group; Faith Davis Ruffins, curator of Smithsonian Museum; Ken Walton, project manager of the National Capital Planning Commission; and Mabel Wilson, associate professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University.

U.Va. panelists include Maurice Cox, associate professor of architecture; Claudrena Harold, associate professor of African-American studies and history; Carmenita Higginbotham, assistant professor of American studies and art history; and Elizabeth Meyer, associate professor of landscape architecture.

At 4 p.m., a reception will be held in the Campbell Hall lobby, and Freelon will give a lecture at 5:30 p.m. in Campbell Hall 153.

Freelon founded The Freelon Group in 1990 and guides the firm's museum and cultural center work. The Smithsonian Institution selected the architectural team of Freelon Adjaye Bond with SmithGroup to design the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Freelon's work has been published in national professional journals including Architecture, Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, and Contract magazine, where he was named Designer of the Year for 2008. Metropolis and Metropolitan Home magazines and the New York Times have also featured Freelon and his firm.

The Freelon Group has received 42 American Institute of Architects design awards at the national, regional and state levels and received AIA North Carolina's Outstanding Firm Award in 2001. A native of Philadelphia, Freelon holds a bachelor of environmental design in architecture from North Carolina State University's College of Design and a master of architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently on the faculty at MIT's School of Architecture and Planning.

"Re-Imagining the Public Realm" is sponsored by the School of Architecture and the College of Arts & Sciences, with support from the Institute of Humanities and Global Cultures, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies and the U.Va. chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students. 

The symposium and lecture are free and open to the public.

Complete speaker biographies and full agenda are available on the symposium website. For information on other University events commemorating Martin Luther King, visit the Community MLK Celebration website.

— By Ellen Cathey

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