By Lauren E. Williams, Special to the AFRO
Oprah has a new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and you just have to see it.
Open to the public since June 8th, the exhibit, Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture, uses the story of Winfrey and her 25-year daytime talk show as a way to explore contemporary American history and culture, especially issues of power, gender and the media.
“This exhibition examines the power of television,” Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum’s founding director, said in a press release. “Just as Oprah Winfrey watched TV coverage of the civil rights movement and was shaped by the era in which she was born and raised, she has gone on to have a profound effect on how Americans view themselves and each other in the tumultuous decades that followed.”
The exhibition is separated into three sections: 1) America Shapes Oprah, 1950s–1980s; 2)The Oprah Winfrey Show; and 3) Oprah Shapes America. It features video clips, interactive interviews, costumes from Winfrey’s films “Beloved” and “The Color Purple,” and artifacts from Harpo Studios, which she founded, in Chicago.
“She [Oprah] has a place in the museum with a long line of women who did extraordinary things in their time—Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Maya Angelou—women who worked to redeem the soul of America,” Bunch continued.
Winfrey posted on Instagram after seeing the new Smithsonian exhibit on June 7th. “Seeing everything under one roof brought tears to my eyes,” she wrote.
Her long-time best friend and supporter, CBS This Morning Anchor Gayle King toured the exhibit for the first time with her. Winfrey’s father, Vernon Winfrey had a special tour as well.
The news of the exhibit comes on the heels of another announcement from the popular museum, “Walk-Up Weekdays.” Though they won’t start in time for you to see Winfrey’s exhibit, individuals will be able enter the museum on a first-come, first-served basis Monday through Friday for the entire month of September providing even more chances to see the historic museum.
Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture runs through the month of June.