How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture

by Tonya Bolden

The National Museum of African American History, which opened in September, 2016,... read more

The National Museum of African American History, which opened in September, 2016, was a long time coming. The seed of the idea and efforts to gain Congressional approval span almost a century, including 15 years of advocacy spearheaded by Congressman John Lewis that culminated in a bill approving the museum signed into law in December 2003. This account begins with that history and goes on to provide a fascinating look at the next 13 years. The museum, says Executive Director Lonnie Bunch, is not about African American history but about American history through the lens of African American experience. The physical design and construction took place simultaneously with outreach and education efforts and work to acquire and organize materials. This conversational narrative conveys the commitment and excitement and sense of responsibility of all involved, and includes fascinating anecdotes about specific objects and artifacts. The glimpse provided here of what can be found at the museum is enticing, while the importance of the lives and experiences represented by the history documented in this book and within the museum’s walls is a powerful implied refrain. Ample visual material including photos of many museum artifacts, and dynamic page design add to the volume’s appeal. (Age 9 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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