It is with sadness that I announce that Steve Newsome, former director of the Anacostia Community Museum, passed away on Thursday, Sept. 27.
Steve served ably as director of the Anacostia Museum for 12 years, before retiring in February 2004. He significantly increased the number of exhibits created by the museum’s historians and curators, including “Precious Memories,” which became a national collections initiative designed to encourage individuals, communities and institutions to collect African American art and historically significant artifacts.
Steve was a well-known advocate for the development of more meaningful relationships between museums and their constituents. Other exhibitions at the museum during Steve’s tenure included 1994’s “Black Mosaic: Community Life Among Black Immigrants in Washington, D.C.” and “When the Spirit Moves: The Africanization of American Movement,” which opened in the Arts and Industries Building in 2000.
Steve led a fundraising effort that resulted in a renovation of the Anacostia Museum. He created an annual summer academy—an intensive program of cultural education for young people, which was held at three churches in the Anacostia neighborhood.
Prior to coming to the Smithsonian, Steve was the founding director of the Banneker-Douglass Museum and executive director of the Maryland Commission on African American History. In addition to his work at the Smithsonian, Steve served as president of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums and was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Museums. He chaired AAM’s Museum Assessment Program Advisory Committee and the association’s AIDS Task Force. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington and the Kennedy Center’s Community and Friend’s Board. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Maryland Humanities Council. After serving at the Anacostia Museum, Steve was the founding director of the Prince George’s County African American Museum and Cultural Center.
Steve made many wonderful contributions to the museum community and we are grateful he chose to spend 12 years of his career at the Smithsonian. Steve was a friend, and colleague to many at the Institution, and our thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.
Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture