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New exhibit dedicated to Oprah Winfrey to open at Smithsonian's African American Museum

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by Amy Aubert, WJLA

WASHINGTON (WJLA) — A new Oprah Winfrey exhibit will open to the public Friday at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“In many ways, we realized that this is a fascinating story, not just about an individual, but the change in our culture,” Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, said in front of a crowd of media.

The individual behind that fascinating story, as Bunch described, is Winfrey.

“She has always been so faithful to the community and she has been a powerhouse nationally,” said Dr. Joan Cooper, who was visiting the museum from Nevada.

Museum visitors, like Cooper, can check out the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture’s newest exhibition on Friday.

“As with any exhibition opening, this is a really exciting moment,” said Kathleen Kendrick, Exhibition Curator.

Media was allowed a sneak peek tour of the “Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture” exhibit on Wednesday.

“The notion of being able to help people explore African American culture and its impact on all of us is really important to the museum,” Bunch said. “And to be able to do it through the lens of Oprah Winfrey has been really powerful and meaningful.”
“Her contributions to American culture were so profound and unique as both a businesswoman, as a media personality, and, really, as an inspiration,” says Kendrick.

Kendrick says they have about 200 objects on display in the exhibit, including the red suit Oprah wore during her famous car giveaway episode.

“We hope that the visitors will find moments to ponder the issues that Oprah raised,” says Bunch.

“People suddenly had to think about the things that were happening in smaller communities,” said Cooper, of the topics that Oprah discussed on her talk show.

“No one can deny the impact of the 25 years of The Oprah Winfrey Show and nobody can deny that we are changed and sometimes made better by this work,” Bunch says.

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