The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives'
record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program
staff conducts interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted
by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Kinard was interviewed for the Oral History Collection because of his pivotal role in the creation and development of the Anacostia Community Museum. He came to the Smithsonian
with a long background of service to his community, both locally and internationally, and he shaped the programs and mission of the Anacostia Community Museum.
The interview took place on July 30, 1987, at Kinard's office in the Anacostia Museum. Anne M. Rogers, a graduate student in history at the University of Maryland,
conducted the interview for the Smithsonian Institution Archives. In the interview, Kinard discusses his education, early work in community service, the founding of the ANM
and his directorship. Topics include early exhibits, staff, and Kinard's vision for the Museum.
John Robert Edward Kinard (1936-1989), was the Director of the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) in Washington, D.C., from its founding in 1967 until his death in 1989. Kinard
was born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area and attended Howard University briefly before receiving degrees from Livingstone College in 1960 and the Hood Theological
Seminary in 1963 in Salisbury, North Carolina.
An ordained minister, Kinard was an Assistant Pastor at John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Washington, D.C., for 22 years. He also participated in Operation
Crossroads Africa in 1962 and the Poverty Program at the Southeast Neighborhood House in Washington, D.C., where he established close ties with the African government and
While working as an interpreter and escort for the U.S. State Department, he was introduced to Mrs. Marion Conover Hope, an active member of the Greater Anacostia People's
Corporation. Through Mrs. Hope's influence, he found himself the first Director of the Smithsonian Institution's new Anacostia Neighborhood Museum (ANM) in July 1967, a position
which he retained until his death in 1989.
Begun as the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, an experimental bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, ANM was the first community-based institution founded under the aegis
of a major institution and became the prototype for other small neighborhood museums. It was developed as part of a broader plan to encourage museum access to a diverse cultural
and socioeconomic group of museum goers. As a community-based museum, ANM sought to address issues of importance to its local constituency, as reflected in early exhibits.
With the expansion of its mission, the museum's research and exhibits programs came to reflect its commitment to African American history and culture. In 1987, its name was
changed to the Anacostia Museum to reflect more correctly its growth and development from a neighborhood museum to a pioneer in producing both in-house and traveling exhibits
that link the African American experience in this country with that of the dominant culture. In 2006, it was renamed the Anacostia Community Museum to reflect its role as
a model community museum.