The Museum of African Art (MAA) was originally located in the Washington, DC residence of Frederick Douglass and became part of the Smithsonian Institution in 1979 and was later renamed the National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) in 1981. During the 15 years that the MAA was in operation, the The Robbins Center (originally called Center for Cross Cultural Communication or CCCC operated under the Museum's name. Following the Museum's inclusion as part of the Smithsonian, it reverted back to its original corporate name with the inclusion of Robbins' name in the title to become the Robbins Center for Cross-Cultural Communication. From 1964 to 1982, Robbins was the Director of the MAA, later becoming the Founding Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar from 1982-1995. After leaving the Smithsonian, Robbins continued his work at the Robbins Center for Cross Cultural Communications to apply the perspectives and insights of the social sciences and the arts in public education with particular emphasis on interracial understanding.
One year before the founding of the Frederick Douglass Institute of Negro Arts and History, Robbins asked American artist Ben Shahn (1898-1969) to create a print of Douglass to be used for fund-raising purposes. Shahn created four prints in total.
Related EEPA collections include: EEPA 2015-013, which contains posters advertizing the Museum of African Art (now the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution) and its exhibits, exhibit brochures, a watercolor painting and photographs by Eliot Elisofon, and museum signage. EEPA 2016-009, which includes ephemera related to the Museum of African Art (now the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art) and 7 photographic prints.
The Ben Shahn papers (AAA.shahben), held at the Archives of American Art, include more correspondence between Shahn and Warren Robbins.The Smithsonian Institution Archives holds the Warren M. Robbins Papers (SIA.FA13-136).
Donated by Marshall A. Janoff, 2017.
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Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.