A new exhibition debuting next spring at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will celebrate Chadwick Boseman’s “Black Panther” costume.
“Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures” opens on March 24 and features the late actor’s iconic gear from the 2018 blockbuster.
Black Panther counts as the first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream American comics, and the film is the first major cinematic production on the character.
“Investigating Afrofuturist expression through art, music, activism and more, this exhibition explores and reveals Afrofuturism’s historic and poignant engagement with African American history and popular culture,” Smithsonian officials said. “From the enslaved looking to the cosmos for freedom to popular sci-fi stories inspiring Black astronauts, to the musical influence of Sun Ra, OutKast, P-Funk and more, this exhibition covers the broad and impactful spectrum of Afrofuturism.”
Through the 4,300-square-foot temporary exhibition, visitors will view a variety of objects from Afrofuturism pioneers, including Octavia Butler’s typewriter, Nichelle Nichols’ “Star Trek” uniform as the character Lt. Nyoto Uhura and Nona Hendryx’s spacesuit-inspired costume worn while performing with LaBelle.
The exhibition also utilizes select objects to elevate stories that speak to Black liberation and social equality, such as Trayvon Martin’s flight suit from Experience Aviation, and his childhood dream of being an astronaut.
“Trayvon Martin’s flight suit tells the story of a dream of space flight ended tragically by earthbound violence,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon director of the museum. “We are honored to tell more of Trayvon’s story, exploring his love of flight and mechanics and his fondness for science and technology. Afrofuturism charts the joy of a rich, imagined future, often in the face of injustice.”
Since its opening in 2016, the museum has supported conversations, collections and initiatives surrounding Afrofuturism.
“Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures” will be on view in the museum’s Bank of America Special Exhibitions Gallery from March 24, 2023, through March 2024.
For more details about the new exhibition and to sign up for additional updates, go to the museum’s Afrofuturism website.