By Joseph Angemi
An exhibition titled, “Of Voice and Stone: 200 Years of History in the American Legation Building and Morocco,” officially opened, June 9, 2021, in celebration of the bicentennial of the American Legation building in Tangier. Today, the legation—which was the United States’ first diplomatic property overseas—serves as a museum and cultural center, and a symbol of the more than 200 years of friendship the two countries have enjoyed.
Some objects on display tell the history of the legation building itself, such as the ceremonial sword presented to Chargé d’Affaires J. Rives Childs by the staff of the Tangier Legation in 1945. Other collections focus on the personal relationships between Moroccans and Americans that have led to significant achievements in music, science, and sports. One example is a dress worn by American singer, songwriter, and actress Lady Gaga, who collaborated closely with the Moroccan-born music producer RedOne. The exhibit also features a sizable Lego model of the Mars rover, in recognition of Moroccan-American scientist Kamal Oudrhiri’s contribution to the rover’s 2020 landing.
Chargé d’Affaires David Greene and Mohammed El Ferrane, director of the National Library, jointly cut the ribbon to open the exhibition, which was covered by Morocco’s major news outlets. The exhibition will remain at the library until the fall and will then move to Abderrahman Slaoui Foundation Museum in Casablanca. The exhibition’s final stop will be the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, in the spring of 2022. Senior Curator Joseph Angemi in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Office of Cultural Heritage led the team that designed and curated the space while working in close coordination with Mission Morocco and the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies, which manages the legation property.
Joseph Angemi is a curator within the Office of Cultural Heritage at the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations.