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'Charles Coco' Bayron creates a tattoo on a client’s arm at Nu Flava Ink tattoo parlor on Martin Luther King Ave SE. Bayron’s work was documented for the museum’s 'Community and Creativity' project. The museum has worked to document the history and evolution of Washington, DC’s significant but shrinking Chinatown community. Former mayor of Washington, DC, Anthony Williams, being interviewed for the museum’s ongoing Urban Waterways project. The museum organized and hosted the 106th Meeting of the Smithsonian Material Culture Forum, entitled 'In Washington, Of Washington: Documenting D.C. at the Smithsonian'.

For the first time in human history, more than half of the world's population lives in cities. As the world urbanizes at an unprecedented pace, the Anacostia Community Museum continues its five-decades-long tradition of researching, documenting, and engaging with urban communities, with an emphasis on the Washington, DC metropolitan area and other urban centers across the country and world. Through community-based documentation and research—including extensive oral history interviewing, photo-documentation, community surveying and mapping— the Museum is able to offer cutting-edge insights about the wide range of social, political, economic and environmental forces that have shaped and continue to shape our urbanizing world.

Urban Waterways

The Anacostia Community Museum has been exploring the relationship between urban waterways and their surrounding communities since 2010, with a focus on Washington, DC's Anacostia River and similar waterways across the country and beyond. Tackling such issues as urban development, community activism, and river ecology, the Urban Waterways project is committed to: expanding traditional definitions of environmentalism; documenting the experiences and best practices of diverse stakeholders residing in communities along urban waterways; and providing opportunities for community members to lead discussions and explorations of issues of greatest concern to them in efforts to ensure the equitable restoration of—and access to—natural resources.

The project has included exhibitions, community-based research, and public programming, as well as currently:
- the Women's Environmental Leadership (WEL) initiative: a program that builds the capacity for future women environmental leadership by introducing established leaders to the next generation of women interested in environmental advocacy and justice efforts
- the Urban Gardening initiative: a workshop series that empowers participants to explore their surrounding natural world and to take part in conversations about the importance of healthy eating and access to fresh food


Anacostia Community Museum Urban Waterways

A Right to the City

In 2018, the museum opened its signature 50th anniversary exhibition, A Right to the City, which explores the history of neighborhood change and civic activism in the nation's capital. In the early twenty-first century, as Washington, DC was experiencing rapid population growth, mounting tensions over gentrification, and persistent inequality, the Anacostia Community Museum researched and curated this exhibition recounting the dynamic histories of six DC neighborhoods—Adams Morgan, Anacostia, Brookland, Chinatown, Shaw and Southwest—through the eyes of the Washingtonians who helped shape and reshape the city in extraordinary ways: through their fights for quality public education, healthy and green urban spaces, equitable development and transportation, and a genuinely democratic approach to city planning.


A Right to the City

Extensive oral history interviews were conducted as part of the research for the exhibition. They can be accessed here: A Right to the City Exhibition Records.