Youth Curator Program

2019 Youth Curators with Stephanie Johnson-Toliver and Janie Hendrix in NAAM’s award-winning Bold as Love: Jimi Hendrix At Home exhibition

“It takes a village to raise every child.” ~ African Proverb

Since 2008, the Northwest African American Museum has offered a youth engagement program that brings high school students together to actively discover the art and science of museum curation.  Now in its 12th year, NAAM’s Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program has graduated well over 100 young people who engaged in a curriculum-based, art-inspired museum curatorial cohort.  We look forward to the 2020 Youth Curator Program cohort.


  • The Youth Curator Program is open to 14 to 18 year olds
  • Three months of fun, dynamic, and teen-focused sessions from March through May taught by a highly-qualified teaching artist
  • Group excursions to art-focused spaces in Seattle
  • Earn school service hours
  • $300 stipend for each Youth Curator
  • NAAM membership for each Youth Curator
  • The project culminates in June with a Youth Curator display that becomes a gallery installation at NAAM

For more information about the program, email here.  The 2020 Youth Curators Program will be inspired by NAAM’s current Iconic Black Women: Ain’t I a Woman exhibition and will be led by Teaching Artist Kela Hall.  Application period opens on Dr. King’s birthday, January 15, 2020.  Stay tuned!

Major support for the Youth Curator Program provided by KeyBank Foundation, Peach Foundation, and generous supporters. We solicit YOUR support of the Youth Curator Program. Contact our Development Office by clicking here to determine ways to give to this impactful youth program. 

History of the NAAM Youth Curator Program

The Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program at the Northwest African American Museum is an award-winning program that introduces youth to the philosophy and practices of museum work through creative, community-engaged projects on timeless and contemporary topics.  It began in 2008 when the museum opened.  Community leader and youth advocate Stephanie Johnson-Toliver coordinated the program for 10 years and led it to win the 2017 Teen Tix Award.

Youth Curators gain social skills while learning and understanding new concepts as well as developing artistic expression. NAAM celebrates tradition, art, and history and in doing so, supports opportunities for youth to share their accomplishments, passions, and concerns.

Recent Youth Curator Exhibits:

2019 Youth Curator Program

‘Scuse Me, Do You Know Jimi?

In 2019, numerous celebrations are taking place commemorating Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix.  The Northwest African American Museum featured a major exhibition entitled Bold as Love: Jimi Hendrix at Home, which explored how Hendrix’s Seattle roots shaped his musical genius and ran November 27, 2018-May 5, 2019. The Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park recently unveiled a significant addition to the Jimi Hendrix Park.  A local post office has been named after Jimi Hendrix. And we are pleased that the 2019 Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curators Program engaged youth in exploring and celebrating the legacy of Jimi Hendrix.  In ‘Scuse Me, Do You Know Jimi? youth created a public service announcement about Jimi Hendrix that is on display at the Northwest African American Museum.  Youth Curators engaged in a 12-week video art production curriculum and were trained by professionals to learn the art of video storytelling.  The Youth Curator project culminated in a gallery exhibition, on view at NAAM and airing on local media outlets, into early 2020.











2018 Youth Curator Program

My Take:  No Place Like Here

Over twelve sessions during 2018, Youth Curators gained  an understanding for the found inspiration in the elegant photography of Al Smith, Sr. For more than four decades, Smith was a master at capturing the pulse of Seattle’s African American community. Partners at Youth in Focus offered instruction and technical practice for digital photography to capture images as a mode of communication and critiques that are shaped through intentional visual storytelling to depict the authenticity of Seattle’s Central Area. The Youth Curator project culminated in a gallery exhibition at NAAM and included selected works at the Museum of History & Industry for the exhibition,  Seattle on the Spot: The Photographs of Al Smith.


Intersections: Finding True North


Artist Studio: Drawing Attention Outside the Lines


Transparent, Translucent, & Opaque