Alex Visits Smithsonian’s African American History Museum
Over 800,000 people have visited the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History & Culture since its opening in September last year, so it was truly an honor for us to get access to the museum and record clues for THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE category in today’s show.
Once Jeopardy! producer Brett Schneider found out about the museum’s construction in 2014, he knew it would be a great location. “I immediately reached out to James Gordon in their Office of Public Affairs and we began a dialogue,” Brett said. Hoping to gain access as close as possible to the museum’s opening day, the two organized the visit and put the wheels in motion. Next step? The clues.
“When I saw a memo that we were going to be shooting at the new museum, I volunteered to write the category,” said Jeopardy! writer Debbie Griffin. “And since there were so many incredible things to talk about, that category quickly became two categories. There’s so much history at the museum, beginning from the dark days of slavery to today, and so many achievements in between.”
As the shoot date drew near and the time came to select a presenter for the clues, Alex himself was another eager volunteer. Not only was he excited about the opportunity to have an early look at the new museum, but he also took a keen interest in the subject matter.
Switching hats from “host” to “clue producer,” Alex first reviewed each individual clue, balancing the scope of material that had been selected against the vast amount of resources available in the museum. Then came the process of rewording clues to match his voice and rebuilding categories to tell as much of the story as possible. And it didn’t stop there. Alex’s natural curiosity has earned him quite a reputation for improvising and rewording clues when he’s on location, depending on what he’s learned in the midst of taping.
“I only hope I’m half as curious about the world when I’m Alex’s age,” Brett said. “Between every shot he’s forever asking questions of the curators and staff. He’s always up early and full speed ahead, so he keeps us on our toes.”
Thanks to the Smithsonian for the wonderful museum and for allowing us to visit. Stay tuned for part two of this category (and story!) at the end of this month.