Screenshot from the Searchable Museum depicting an Afro-American Newspaper cutter. (Screenshot by

Civic tech isn’t just about making the trains run on time through machine learning or AI. It can also involve creative ways for taxpayers to visit the museums they fund any time they want.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is always one click away thanks to The Searchable Museum — a platform created in collaboration with Baltimore-based digital services firm Fearless.

Last year, the firm made the museum’s “Slavery and Freedom” exhibit into a virtual experience. This year, the civic tech firm released its second online exhibition, “Making a Way Out of No Way,” which illustrates perseverance, resourcefulness and resilience in African American history from the late 1800s through the 20th century.

At least one Fearless employee sees The Searchable Museum as a pathway for historians to tell important stories in ways that will reach more people than a traditional literary avenue might.

“We are enabling the historians to enter into this new kind of market,” Kelsey Johnston, content strategist at Fearless, told “If they had their way, they would write a novel. We’re encouraging them to use a variety of different components and visual elements, video, whatever they have in the collection or whatever we can get produced for this specific site in order to make it a little bit more compelling to a digital user.”