Projects

The Center for Restorative History currently supports eight projects in four thematic areas: Community Engagement, Collections, Strategic Partnerships, and Engaged Scholarship. With each project, we expose silenced truths, redefine notions of belonging, transform our institution to be more accountable, and get closer to addressing harms, past and present.
 

Reckoning with Remembrance

A deep magenta sign, riddled with many bullet holes, displayed in a glass case in Flag Hall at the National Museum of American History. Three visitors are surrounding the object, looking down at the accompanying panel text.

Reckoning with Remembrance: History, Injustice, and the Murder of Emmett Till highlighted a community’s efforts to preserve Emmett Till’s memory in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, and to fight anti-Black violence. Learn how a Till historical marker defaced by 317 bullet holes speaks to an ongoing battle in the United States over what histories are remembered or suppressed.
 

Undocumented Organizing Collecting Initiative

Left: A cardboard cut-out of painted Monarch butterfly wings against a black background. Right: The white backside of the butterfly cardboard wings. At the top of each wing, "#Here to Fight" and "Undocumented & Unafraid" are written in pink marker.

The Undocumented Organizing project is a three-year collecting initiative, from July 2019 to December 2022, dedicated to chronicling undocumented organizing across six sites: North Carolina, California, Nebraska, Chicago, Mexico City, and Washington, D.C. In close collaboration with undocumented organizers, this project collects objects and oral histories to chronicle a signature moment in American history. Learn more about how people without citizenship or voting rights are changing the nation.
 

GPEP Alumni Internship

Tariq Price wearing a toolbelt, tacking a large blue and white poster to a grey wall.

The Goucher College Prison Education Partnership (GPEP) Alumni Internship Program is the only program of its kind in the country. This landmark internship program is a model for creating equitable access for communities historically excluded from the museum field. Specifically designed for and by formerly incarcerated GPEP scholars, the program provides interns an opportunity to gain professional experience through museum placements that support their future careers. Learn more about this program and our intern cohort.
 

Nation of Sanctuary

Seven people posing on either side of a large, outdoor sign which reads "Episcopal Farmworker Ministry." Four smaller, red yard signs are stuck into grass in the foreground. The sky is blue with scattered clouds.

Nation of Sanctuary explores the history of refugees in the United States from the Colonial period to the present with a focus on Asian/Pacific American, African American, Latinx, Native American, and white refugee and asylee communities. Learn how experiences of dispossession, displacement, migration, and climate change, among other issues, have shaped past and contemporary understandings of what it means to be a refugee.
 

Movement for Black Lives Collecting Initiative

Three people playing instruments in the back of a truck. Standing on the street in front of the truck, three others hold a large white banner which reads "Defend Black Womxn." Three of the six people hold fists in the air.

The Movement for Black Lives Collecting Initiative is a collaboration between the Center for Restorative History and Movement for Black Lives activists to preserve the history of Black political organizing from 2012 onward. The collecting initiative will center the documentation of Black life, Black organizing, Black cultural production, and Black protest. Learn how this initiative will work with activists to cement the movement’s place in the historical record using material culture and firsthand accounts.
 

African American Collections Inventory

A poster agaist a grey background, painted with pale blue, pink, and white stripes to represent the transgender flag. The words "Black Trans Lives Matter" and "#remember their names" are written in thin black marker.

The African American Collections Inventory is an ongoing reclassification project of the museum’s Black political history holdings. It aims to make these objects accessible for research, rehousing, digitization, and exhibition. Critically examining how we store, tag, and use these objects will help us redress inaccuracies in the historical record and highlight African American history in our national collection.
 

Research and Action Team

José Centeno-Meléndez, wearing headphones and holding an audio recording device, sitting on a brown-grey couch with an oral history participant, who is holding a green pillow.

The Research and Action team is devoted to creating a new theory and method for museum practice, grounded in the principles of restorative justice.  With the goal of co-creating national histories in partnership with communities that have experienced historical harm, this team generates best practices for community engagement, ethical collecting, mutual capacity-building, and co-curation. Read more about our research and methodology.
 

Decolonization Working Group

The Decolonization Working Group researches best practices for changing museum systems rooted in colonialism. This includes structurally reforming the ways the museum collects, catalogues, repatriates, and exhibits in order to dismantle colonial legacies and forge new relationships with impacted communities.