GMF2020: Dr. Dwandalyn Reece, National Museum of African American History And Culture

Dr. Dwandalyn Reece, Associate Director of the Office for Curatorial Affairs at Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Join Dr. Reece in a discussion about Musical Crossroads, the Museum’s exhibit about African American music from the arrival of the first Africans to the present day.

Welcome: Dr. Toni-Marie Montgomery, Dean, Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University and Gateways Music Festival Board of Directors

About Music Crossroads

Musical Crossroads tells the story of African American music from the arrival of the first Africans to the present day.

In exploring how the intermingling of musical and cultural traditions, styles and beliefs, brought forth new modes of American musical expression, the exhibition expands the definition of African American music to include African American music-makers in all genres and styles.

More importantly, in a land where racism and oppression existed as a continuing battle to be fought against and won, it shows how African American music provided a voice for liberty, justice and social change. In the exhibition, visitors have the opportunity to appreciate African American music as a vibrant living art form that has been a vehicle of cultural survival and creative expression. Musical Crossroads is the thread that pulls the themes of the Museum’s various galleries together in a language that is accessible to all.

Main Messages

….African American music preserved African cultural traditions while it spurred new innovations.

….African American music is a central role in the history of American music.

….African American musicians are represented in a diverse array of musical forms.

….Music is a universally appealing lens through which to understand America’s history.


Dwandalyn R. Reece is Associate Director for Curational Affairs and Supervisory Museum Curator at The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). She brings more than 30 years of knowledge and experience in the museum field, including more than ten years at NMAAHC as Curator of Music and Performing Arts. In that role she built a collection of over 4,000 objects, curated the museum’s inaugural permanent exhibition, Musical Crossroads, for which she received the Secretary’s Research Prize in 2017, curated the museum’s grand opening music festival, Freedom Sounds, served as executive committee chair of the pan-institutional group Smithsonian Music, and co-curated the Smithsonian Year of Music initiative in 2019.  Prior to her tenure with NMAAHC, Dwan worked as a Senior Program Officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She ​also has worked previously as the Assistant Director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Chief Curator at the Brooklyn Historical Society, and Curator at the Motown Museum in Detroit.


Gateways Music Festival is grateful to the following foundations, corporations and governmental agencies for their support and contributions made between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2020.