Curator of African American History

Dr. Gaila Sims joined the FAM as the Curator of African American History and Special Projects in August 2022. Originally from Riverside, California, she received her B.A. in History and African American Studies from Oberlin College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining FAM, Dr. Sims held positions at a variety of museums, archives, and cultural institutions, including the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, the Harry Ransom Center, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The Curator of African American History and Special Projects is responsible for the development of exhibitions, interpretation, and programming related to African American History at the museum and for the City of Fredericksburg. This includes an updated exhibition surrounding the “Slave Auction Block” on the first floor of the museum, a comprehensive exhibition on African American History in the Fredericksburg Area on the second floor of the museum (to open in 2025), and the review, revision, and enhancement of City interpretive materials, including wayside panels, brochures, and walking tours.


Support for the hire of Dr. Sims has been providedby the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) of 2021 and administered through Virginia Humanities, and the City of Fredericksburg.

Gaila Sims FAM Headshot
Dr. Gaila Sims (Image Courtesy Barclay Sims Company)