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In Memoriam: Lori D. Yarrish
Image credit: Jenelle R. Cooper

In Memoriam: Lori D. Yarrish

We, the staff and advisory board, are heartbroken to share the sad news that our dear friend and colleague, Lori Yarrish, Director of the Anacostia Community Museum has passed away.

Lori became Director of the museum last December, after having served as Acting Director since June 2016. In that short period, she accomplished so much.

She led the efforts to revitalize the museum—refreshing the mission, broadening the social-impact thrust, streamlining operations and inspiring the staff to innovate. By doing so, Lori sought to further demonstrate and heighten the leadership role museums can play in spurring and documenting change and convening conversations of social import.

Last year, under her leadership, the museum kicked off a yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary. The celebration featured the exhibition, “Your Community, Your Story: Celebrating Five Decades of the Anacostia Community Museum, 1967—2017,” an open house, and a community block party. The anniversary culminated in the opening of the much heralded exhibition, “A Right to the City,” which explores the history of neighborhood change in Washington, D.C.

Lori rallied all those she touched to the expansive and ambitious mission of the museum. She motivated and encouraged staff to always look for innovative ways to reach audiences, form collaborative partnerships, and connect with communities. With her support, the museum increased its digital offerings and staff worked tirelessly to bring the museum’s activities out of the building and take them into the community. Lori also reinvigorated ACM’s advisory board so it would better reflect the refreshed mission of the museum.

Lori served on the coordinating committee for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. Her outstanding work was also recognized outside of the Smithsonian—the October 2017 issue of the Washingtonian named Lori one of Washington, D.C.’s most powerful women in the arts.

Prior to her leadership role at the museum, Lori was the Deputy Director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), a position she had held since 1991. Before coming to the Smithsonian, Lori was State Administrator of Collections and Exhibitions for the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Banneker-Douglass Museum.

Lori most recently served on the board of directors at the New School of Dance and Arts in Washington, D.C., and was formerly a board member for the Prince George’s County Arts and Humanities Council, the Congressional Awards Committee and the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums. She was also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Lori’s daughter Laila, her mother Myra and family at during this difficult time.

Lori’s energy and commitment to the museum were boundless. Her positivity, enthusiasm, cheerful voice and radiant smile will be greatly missed by us all.

In recognition of her ACM vision, we present this video which Lori narrated on the exhibition A Right to the City.