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

How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture - Tonya Bolden
History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.
-James Baldwin, "The White Man's Guilt," 1965


A great introduction to how the newest Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture was built.

This coffee table book was great and I am so happy that I took time out to deal with the crowd of people at the National Book Festival and get a copy of this. Since you cannot even get into this museum until March sometime (the timed passes sell out in seconds, yes getting in here is more prized than Hamilton tickets) this gives you a great peek at the history behind the museum. The book also has a lot of photographs and other memorabilia tucked within its pages.

On December 16, 2003, President Bush signed the bill that authorized the creation of a national museum of African American History and Culture. After that the book follows the man who would be tasked with bringing the museum into being, Lonnie G. Bunch III. From there it goes into the museum looking for objects to display and to find someone to design it. The museum showcases thinks important to the African American culture that takes a look at slavery, emancipation, serving in the military, fighting for equal rights, and impact to sports, music, and other forms of art.

I was able to stand outside and listen to President Obama as he gave a speech and opened the museum this year. I felt connected and seen in this world in a way I had not before. It was wonderful to have so many people of all different races and background there to witness this museum opening. I will never forget it.