The African Ancestors Garden: History and Memory at the International African American MuseumWalter Hood, with a foreword by Dr. Tonya M. Matthews, and essays by Bernard E. Powers, Jr., Dell Upton, and Louise Bernard

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The first publication to document the International African American Museum’s landscape design by Hood Design Studio, illuminating its mission and historic site

The African Ancestors Garden is the first book to be published in conjunction with the International African American Museum (IAAM) in Charleston, South Carolina. The museum’s landscape design by Hood Design Studio, led by award-winning Walter Hood, exemplifies the museum’s mission to reflect on its location at Gadsden’s Wharf, the point at which nearly half of all enslaved Africans arrived in North America.

With contributions by figures critical to the realization of the International African American Museum, this significant book presents the intensive site research and concepts that went into the distinct spaces at the museum, including an infinity reflecting pool and an ethnobotanical showcase of African plants brought to North America though that landing. Hood’s design response to these historic grounds addresses memory, tragedy, and culture, a moving homage to the living Charleston community and the African diaspora at large.

Hood Design Studio, led by MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant-winner Walter Hood, is at the forefront of the expanding field of social activism through design, and this book allows us a detailed overview of the conceptualization and creation of a remarkable and deeply meaningful landscape, proposing a way of designing public spaces and cultural institutions that embody the African American experience.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 266 × 215 mm (10 1/2 × 8 1/2 in)
  • Pages: 288 pp
  • Illustrations: 225 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9781580935845

Walter Hood is a MacArthur Fellow and Chair of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning and Urban Design at the University of California, Berkeley. Among his designs for institutions are the gardens of the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, and the plaza of the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Academy of Arts and Letters Architecture Award.

Dr. Tonya M. Matthews is the President and CEO of the International African American Museum.

Bernard E. Powers, Jr. is founding director of the Center for the Study of Slavery at the College of Charleston.

Dell Upton is Distinguished Research Professor of Architectural History in the Department of Art History at UCLA.

Louise Bernard is Director of the Museum of the Obama Presidential Center.