National Building Museum

1968: Shaping the District

Saturday, January 6, 2018
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Free, drop in. All ages encouraged. 

Connect with a variety of organizations to explore D.C. as it was in 1968: a predominantly African American city in a complex time of grassroots organizing, groundbreaking initiatives, creative expression, racism, protests, and activism. Hear historian Dr. Marya McQuirter and others talk about the people, places, and stories of the time. Listen to music evocative of the year, performed by musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra. Engage in conversations and share your own stories. Gain a broader picture of 1968 beyond the uprisings after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. This collaborative event launches a year of programming and exhibitions throughout the city marking the 50th anniversary of this historic year.

The National Building Museum presents this event in partnership with others in The 1968–2018 Collaborative, a group of individuals, institutions, and organizations planning events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the entire year of 1968 in Washington, DC. Chaired by Marya Annette McQuirter, the 1968-2018 Collaborative is an extension of the work initiated by Bernard Demczuk, historian of Ben's Chili Bowl.

Activities include:

  • Discover Marion Barry’s impact on D.C.’s built environment with George Derek Musgrove, co-author of Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital
  • Listen to live music evocative of 1968 performed by National Symphony Orchestra musicians
  • Learn how to preserve your family heirlooms in a personal archiving workshop with DC Public Library as well as enjoy story time with the librarians
  • Review community organizing posters and maps
  • Visualize 1968 in photos with Marya Annette McQuirter, curator of the @dc1968 project
  • Take a historic walking tour of Jewish downtown Washington
  • Use words and music to inspire action and break cycles of violence with One Common Unity’s youth Fly By Light Performance Troupe.

Ongoing Activities

City of Stories
Let images and words from 1968 inspire you to share your own thoughts, feelings, and ideas about Washington DC – then or now. Learn how to make a house-shaped book with artist Sushmita Mazumdar and share your creation in an ongoing display, creating a “city” of collective stories.

Mapping Stories
Map the events of 1968 through photographs and first-hand accounts with the Washington Architectural Foundation and the DC Public Library’s Special Collections.

Organizing History
Get an up close look at community organizing posters, maps, and similar items from the year with the Historical Society of Washington D.C. and National Building Museum curator Sarah Leavitt.

DC Public Library Takeout
Check out a book, sign up for a library card, and learn about the library’s digital resources.

Talks and Films

12–12:30 pm
Visualizing 1968 – Marya Annette McQuirter
Marya Annette McQuirter, curator of the dc1968 project, shares some of the 365 photographs of Washington, DC in 1968 that she's curating from Washingtonians, the DC Public Library Special Collections, and other libraries and archives. Through color and black & white photographs of activism, art, architecture and everyday life, visualize what made 1968 such an extraordinary year.

1:30–2:00 pm
To Better Serve our Citizens: The National Park Service's Summer in the Parks – Noel López 
Find out how the National Park Service reinvented engagement with D.C. communities in and how the eight year Summer in the Parks program lives on in current programs like the Fort Dupont and Fort Reno summer concert series and Fiesta DC. National Park Service Cultural Anthropologist Noel López shows a short film and shares the program’s history and legacy.

2:15–2:45 pm
Barry the Builder – George Derek Musgrove
Discover Marion Barry's impact on D.C.'s built environment during his long political career. George Derek Musgrove, co-author of Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital, explores Barry's near constant preoccupation with building that set the stage for D.C.'s explosive growth in the new millennium. Musgrove signs copies of his book outside the Museum Shop at 3 pm.

3:15–4 pm
Through Chinatown’s Eyes: April 1968 – Ted Gong
Learn about how uprisings following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr impacted D.C.’s Chinatown community. Ted Gong, Director of the 1882 Foundation, leads a conversation following a screening of the film. 

Book Signing
Center court, near Museum Shop

3 pm
George Derek Musgrove signs copies of his book, Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital, which is available for sale in the Museum Shop.


11:30 am–12:15 pm
12:30–1:15 pm
1:30–2:15 pm
National Building Museum
Meet at the sign near the Information Desk
Take an informative, fascinating docent-led tour of the Museum’s historic home and discover what was happening in the building in 1968, a year after architect and urban planner Chloethiel Woodard Smith proposed the building be converted to a museum of the building arts. Come face-to-face with the colossal capitals of the Corinthian columns as you tour the Museum’s fourth floor—not accessible to the general public. 

12:30–2 pm
Walking Tour of Jewish Downtown Washington
Meet at 1968: Shaping the District Welcome Table. Limited to 25 people. Sign up at Welcome Table beginning at 11 am. In case of inclement weather, tour will be presented indoors as a talk in Classroom 231, 2nd floor.
For nearly a century, Jews lived, worked, and worshipped in the neighborhood around 7th Street, NW. This one-mile walking tour includes the 1876 historic Adas Israel synagogue -- a building which has moved twice in its 140 year history and is scheduled to move again next year -- and the sites of three former synagogues.  Led by Samantha Abramson of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, this tour will answer questions such as:
Why are there three former synagogues in Chinatown? 
What was the impact of events of 1968 on the Jewish community?

Performances and Workshops

11 am–12 pm
History through Music
As part of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) initiative NSO in Your Neighborhood, Musicians Joel Fuller and Mahoko Eguchi, violin; Daniel Foster, viola; and Rachel Young, cello, will perform music selected for its historical and emotional relationship to that historic year. Between pieces, NSO violist William Foster will speak about his experiences living in Washington, D.C., and performing with NSO in the late 1960s.
Haydn String Quartet Op. 76 No. 5
Barber Adagio for Strings
Piazzolla's Oblivion and Libertango
Blackbird and Other Selections – The Beatles

12–12:30 pm
1–1:30 pm
2–2:30 pm
Story Time with DC Public Library
Age 5 and younger
Explore 1968 through books. Packed full of reading, songs, and activities, story times are designed to promote language and literacy skillsa great way to develop your child’s lifelong love of reading and learning. Children and caregivers are encouraged to actively engage and participate during the program.

12:45–1:15 pm
RIOT or WRITE IT? How Artists Break Cycles of Violence Through Words that Inspire Action
Explore how music, especially hip-hop, R&B, & pop, inspires people to action on world issues from 1968 - sliding into 2018. Join Princess Best and youth from the Fly By Light Performance Troupe of One Common Unity as they share original performance & visual works. Facilitated by the troupe, participants will create a community written work to address the most prevalent issues faced today through inspiring words of non-violence and activism.

2–3 pm
Personal Archiving Workshop 
Classroom 231, 2nd floor
Are you interested in preserving family treasures? DC Public Library archivists lead a workshop on preserving physical and digital personal archives, including photos, letters, newspapers and other materials. 
Limited to 25 people. Sign up on site at Welcome Table.

This event does not require an RSVP. Registered users can request event reminders.