Maya Angelou, who died Wednesday at age 86, is best known for being an accomplished author, civil-rights advocate and poet, but she had many different lives -- as a streetcar conductor, performer, dancer.
To learn more about her, step inside museums from California to Georgia and find an exhibition that features the extraordinary woman who so eloquently informed us all about poverty, racism and abuse.
--Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F streets, Washington, D.C.: On Thursday, the museum will display a portrait of Angelou that was unveiled last month. During the ceremony, Angelou flashed her magnificent smile -- one that flashed right back from the painting by Ross Rossin.
“I know that when you have love, you have patience with people who make mistakes. So it is important to first love yourself,” Angelou said in an interview at the April 5 event. The portrait will be moved to the first-floor gallery for viewing until June 12.
--Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.: Angelou’s life journey is on display in an exhibition called “Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves.” She is one of four subjects -- along with comedian Billy Crystal, Grammy winner Carlos Santana and former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre -- who shared what dreams inspired them the most.
--San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart St., San Francisco: The museum near the Ferry Building invites visitors to step inside a replica streetcar with a conductor’s bell and other details that is identical to the one Angelou worked on when she was young. (Here’s an interview with Oprah Winfrey in which she talks about how she got the job.)
--Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St. (at Third Street), San Francisco: You will hear Angelou’s strong and distinctive voice introduce an exhibition on slave narratives. She talks about the transport of millions of slaves whose lives were forever affected.
--Tubman African American Museum, 340 Walnut St., Macon, Ga.: The story of how she became an educated woman of distinction is told in a traveling exhibition titled “Mate Masie: What I Hear I Keep.” The show tells the stories of many African American activists, from Harriet Tubman to Langston Hughes.
--African-American Monument, River Street Memorial, Savannah, Ga.: The memorial of a family of four breaking free of the chains of slavery was erected in July 2002. The statue bears an inscription by Angelou that begins: “We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent.”