Timothy Anne Burnside is a curatorial museum specialist at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, specializing in cultural history. (Jati Lindsay)

Timothy Anne Burnside doesn’t go to record stores and rock concerts only for fun. She does it for work, too. That microphone donated by the rapper Rakim on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture? The 36-year-old curatorial museum specialist stashed it in her purse after seeing him perform at the Howard Theatre.

Since joining the museum staff in 2009, Burnside has focused primarily on collecting cultural history objects, ranging from a silver drum set from Living Colour’s Will Calhoun to a dominatrix-looking costume worn by Nona Hendryx at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1974, when Labelle became the first black group to perform there.

Here’s what Burnside likes to do when she’s having fun — be it for work or not.


This may not come as a surprise, but picking a favorite music venue can prove difficult for Burnside: “Gotta love the 9:30 Club! And the Black Cat. And the Howard [Theatre] . . .”

She’s particularly excited that some of those spots are celebrating the museum’s opening with their own events. On Friday, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is playing the Lincoln Theatre. (A photograph of the band taken in 1964 is featured in the museum.) On Saturday, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic take the stage at the 9:30 Club, and Questlove follows his concert with the Roots at the Freedom Sounds Festival with a DJ set at the Howard Theatre.

Didn’t get tickets to the museum, or can’t make it to the festival? “Those are amazing opportunities for people in D.C. to keep celebrating,” she says.

Burnside spends her spare time searching for vinyl and inspiration at Som Records on 14th Street NW. (Sam Vasfi)


In preparation for the museum’s Neighborhood Record Store section, where visitors can peruse reproductions of records as part of the “Musical Crossroads” exhibition, Burnside spent time digging through the crates at Som Records, looking for inspiration on how to emulate a real-life store (1843 14th St. NW, somrecords dc.com ). “That was a huge plus for us that record stores still exist in this city,” she says.

Burnside enjoys sampling black-bean burgers — likely before a show at 9:30 Club — at Satellite Room. (Juana Arias/For The Washington Post)


The run-up to the opening weekend has been hectic, so sitting down for a leisurely lunch hasn’t exactly been part of Burnside’s routine. When she’s not grabbing popcorn or frozen yogurt from a food truck outside the museum’s offices in L’Enfant Plaza, her go-to spot is Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian (Fourth Street and Independence Ave. SW, mitsitamcafe.com ), where she sticks to a simple strategy: “I honestly try to do something different thing every time.” Her one repeat order is the wild rice and cranberry salad.

In the evening, dining decisions are often based on location. “I gravitate to places near wherever the live music is,” she says. She likes popping into Satellite Room (2047 Ninth St. NW, satellite dc.com ), where she orders black bean patties in one of two ways: the Dave Grohl (sun-dried tomato goat cheese, arugula and roasted red pepper) or the Chuck Brown (roasted poblano peppers, pepper jack, avocado). “If they still have their sweet potato fries, I usually dig those,” she says.

As for caffeine, she’s a fan of Compass Coffee (1921 Eighth St. NW, 1535 Seventh St. NW, compasscoffee.com ) and Big Bear Cafe (1700 First St. NW, bigbearcafe-dc.com ), mostly because both offer a quiet spot where she can unwind and sip a latte.

The same sentiment applies when she’s deciding where to go for a glass of wine or whiskey. After a long day at work, she just wants to find a quiet place to relax.

With one exception, of course: “Unless it’s an amazing rock show. Then that’s totally different.”

Read more:

- Where to eat near the National Museum of African American History and Culture

- Visiting the African American Museum? Make the most of your time in D.C.

- The Museum of African American History and Culture: What you need to know before you go

- Four ways to experience the new African American Museum