Stories are more than entertainment—they’re a means of passing along knowledge, values and life lessons. That perspective was the basis for Life Stories: African-American Voices That Teach Us All, a permanent exhibit that opened on Level 3 of the museum on April 22, 1995. Later renamed Story Avenue, it was 2,200-square-foot exhibit that focused on the oral story-telling tradition within the African-American community.
By stopping by a barbershop, a family dinner table, a child’s bedroom at bedtime, and other places in a neighborhood visitors could hear adults telling children stories that—while funny or otherwise engaging—were designed to teach listeners something as well. Story Avenue remained open until July 2012 when it closed to make way for a new story-oriented exhibit on Level 2, Stories from Our Community, which opened in September 2012.
While continuing to emphasize the importance of storytelling, the new exhibit has widened its lens to include stories from all types of cultures, families and traditions.