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MSTP Leadership Team visits the National Museum of African American Music

Posted by on Monday, April 29, 2024 in Antiracism Diversity and Inclusion, Life in the MSTP .

by Leigh Ann Gardner (Grants Manager)

The MSTP Leadership Team visited the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) on Friday, April 26, as part of their ongoing education on ADI topics. The museum, located on Broadway in Nashville and free for Vanderbilt students (valid student ID required at time of admittance), focuses on both the history of African American music as well as how the experiences of African Americans shaped and influenced multiple musical genres. The tour began with a short video about the history of African American music, and the journey from being enslaved Africans in America to African Americans. NMAAM also features exhibits on different musical genres, with interactive listening opportunities as well as displays of artifacts.

The museum’s use of music and soundtracks were woven with a timeline of American history that showed how events and the varied experiences of African Americans influenced musical genres, from spirituals to ragtime to blues to hip-hop. NMAAM also highlights how African Americans, often through music, impacted the larger, mainstream culture of the United States. Exhibits in the museum showcase a broad spectrum of music history, focusing not only on performers but also African American record labels, radio stations, and venues.


During the visit, the LT learned about Vanderbilt’s partnership with NMAAM, which includes a partnership between NMAAM and the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries to support an expanded collection on books, sound recordings, and objects related to African American music. Vanderbilt has also funded internal proposals to create and enhance collaborations between NMAAM and Vanderbilt researchers.

As part of the experience, the LT also enjoyed taking the WeGo bus from campus to the museum and back. Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff can ride the WeGo for free (VU/VUMC ID required), and the trip from campus to Broadway was an efficient and pleasant experience.