Wells Fargo recently announced the donation of $1 million and historical artifacts from its corporate collection to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The artifacts, a collection of two mining stock certificates and one piece of letterhead featuring the work of African American artist Grafton Tyler Brown, will be displayed at the museum’s inaugural exhibition scheduled to open in September, 2016.
Brown, an American painter, lithographer and cartographer, owned and operated his own lithography company in San Francisco from 1867 to 1879 and was the first African American artist to create works that depicted the Pacific Northwest and California. During this time, he created lithographs for stock certificates and letterheads for numerous companies in the area.
The mining stock certificates and letterhead come directly from the Wells Fargo History Museum collection and will accompany a Brown oil painting, View of Lake Okanagan (British Columbia 1882), already in Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture’s (NMAAHC) collection as part of its “Visual Art and the American Experience.”
In response to the donation, museum director Lonnie G. Bunch III stated, “As one of the founding donors to our museum, Wells Fargo has provided invaluable support to help us create a museum like no other in the world.” He continued, “The documents are coming into a collection of more than 40,000 objects which will help us tell the African American story in a rich and compelling way.”
Currently under construction on a five-acre site adjacent to the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian’s 19th museum will be a place where Americans can explore and celebrate the richness and diversity of the African American experience. Since its start in 2003, the museum has built collections and designed 11 inaugural exhibitions covering major periods of African American history from its origins in Africa and continuing through slavery, the civil rights era, the Harlem Renaissance, the great migrations north and west and into the 21st century.
“African American history is American history,” declared Lisa Frison, Vice President, African American Segment manager, Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo is committed to celebrating the stories of African Americans in the hope of bringing broader visibility to the experiences that best represent an extraordinary community. We embrace the arts as a vehicle to highlight history and culture, and feel deeply honored to support the Smithsonian in bringing the African American story to life in such a significant way.”
The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established by an Act of Congress in 2003. When completed later this year, it will be the largest and most comprehensive cultural institution devoted exclusively to exploring and documenting the African American story and its impact on American history.
For more information, visit the museum’s website at nmaahc.si.edu.