Vashti DuBois is the founder and executive director of The Colored Girls Museum, 4613 Newhall St. in Germantown, which helps to redress the frequent disregard of black women’s lives and labor. (Newsworks photo)

On September 13 at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, Philadelphia Contemporary and the Wagner will present the first event of their new collaborative series, Museums of the 21st Century. The Wagner’s 19th-century lecture hall will host a public conversation between Ghanaian writer, art historian, and filmmaker Nana Oforiatta Ayim and Philadelphia artist, writer, and museum founder Vashti DuBois, moderated by Philadelphia Contemporary’s Nato Thompson. Each speaker will discuss their recent and upcoming efforts to re-imagine museums for a new generation of artists and viewers, followed by a conversation and questions from the public. This event is free and open to the public.

Ayim, creator of the pan-African Cultural Encyclopaedia, and DuBois, founder and director of The Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia, will present their visions for the future of museums and discuss their potential as critical platforms for evaluating post-colonial heritage. Ayim is director of the ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge, through which she has pioneered a pan-African Cultural Encyclopaedia, reimagining narratives from across and about the continent; and a Mobile Museums project that travels into communities, collects material culture and exhibits them in those communities, creating discourse about narratives, memory and value. The Colored Girls Museum (TCGM), founded in Philadelphia’s Historic Germantown in 2015, “honors the stories, experiences, and history of Colored Girls.” It is the first institution of its kind, offering visitors a multi-disciplinary experience of memoir, in all its variety, in a residential space.

Museums of the 21st Century is a new series of public conversations with the founders, writers, curators and artists altering our conception of what a museum can offer its public. In partnership with Philadelphia Contemporary, the Wagner Free Institute will host visionaries ranging from artists to architects, curators to historians, poets to public officials to consider the possibilities of the museums to come. Each talk will feature both a local and national or international voice, offering Philadelphia audiences the opportunity hear more about local projects and to learn from those outside the region. September’s talk is supported by the Open Society Foundation.

The talk will be hosted in the Wagner’s 19th-century auditorium, a landmark space in the history of public education and scientific exploration. The Wagner Free Institute of Science’s National Historic Landmark building also houses a 100,000-specimen natural history collection and 45,000-volume library. The Wagner provides free science and history education to all ages in and outside of its museum through lectures, field trips, classroom STEM programs in North Philadelphia public schools, and adult courses.

WHAT: Talk Series: Museums of the 21st Century, featuring Nana Oforiatta Ayim and Vashti DuBois. Co-presented by Philadelphia Contemporary and the Wagner Free Institute of Science.

WHEN: Thursday, September 13th, 6:00-7:30 PM, followed by a reception. The Wagner’s exhibit hall will remain open past its usual 4 p.m. closing time until the lecture begins.

WHERE: The Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1700 W. Montgomery Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19121

More information and registration: