How ‘Watching Oprah’ Went from an American Pastime to the Latest Smithsonian Exhibit

Smithsonian’s National Museum for African American History in Washington D.C. unveiled its latest exhibit, “Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture, June 8. The exhibit showcases the career of one of American television’s national treasures and renowned TV host Oprah Winfrey.

watching oprah

Winfrey, who is one of the museum’s largest financial benefactors, did not have any say in the development of the exhibit but left much of that work– including the donation of her memorabilia from her life and tenure on the Oprah Winfrey show– to officials at NMAAHC.

“This is not a show for Oprah or by Oprah,” said museum director Lonnie Bunch.

“This is a show about other issues using the lens of Oprah.”

Although her talk show ended over seven years ago, its impact on American culture and lives remains. After taking her first walkthrough of the exhibit with “CBS This Morning,” Winfrey expressed the recognition “affirmed for me what an astounding life this is.”

“It made me cry because it is full circle that the mission was accomplished,” she continued. “The intention was fulfilled, and that was to be a mirror for people to see themselves, in other people, in others’ stories; and by watching those stories of other people, be lifted, be inspired, be encouraged in a way that makes you think you can do better in your own life.”

Learn more about “Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture,” on display until June 30, 2018, here.

Kesi Felton


Kési Felton is a junior Journalism major from Atlanta, Georgia.She currently serves as the Content Director for Her Campus Howard and the Director of Communications for the Howard University Student Association. In addition to writing her own personal blog, she has written articles for The Hilltop, Walker's Legacy and Pretty Girls Sweat, LLC. Through digital storytelling, Kési hopes to amplify the voices and stories of underrepresented communities, beginning with Black women.

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