As the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex with a mission to increase and diffuse knowledge, the Smithsonian Institution (SI), based in Washington, DC (USA), is constantly examining how to share information and reach audiences in more accessible ways – and how to respond to our changing world. Building capacity and capability – of our own staff and of cultural and science sector colleagues globally – is central to how we operate and part of our ethos to advance global practice. In that vein, SI, with leadership from the National Museum of African Art (NMAfA), is examining many professional processes – including collections management and research – to better understand the role of museums in a fast-changing world. As an African art museum, with a large collection of historical and contemporary work from throughout the African continent, NMAfA is seeking to redress the historical reliance on Western knowledge frameworks and academic expertise to conserve, document, frame, and interpret our collection, at the near exclusion of the expertise of those from whom and where the collection originates (i.e., Africa and the African diaspora).

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