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"The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum"

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kwassa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 11:19 PM
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"The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum"
This is a long but very interesting article about the new National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington, D.C. and the process of bringing it to life. (I wonder who wrote the headline, however..... National Black Museum ????)

Since Mr. Bunch was appointed in 2005 two years after the museum was created by an act of Congress he and his staff have been racing at full speed, commissioning the building, amassing a collection, reaching out to potential donors and future visitors. But as their deadline approaches, and grand dreams have to be refined into gallery layouts and exhibition plans, they are not only juggling details and a $250 million fund-raising campaign, but also grappling with fundamental questions about the museums soul and message.

Among the biggest, of course, is: What story will it tell? As part of the Smithsonian, the museum bears the burden of being the official that is, the governments version of black history, but it will also carry the hopes and aspirations of African-Americans. Will its tale be primarily one of pain, focused on Americas history of slavery and racial oppression, and memorializing black suffering? Or will it emphasize the uplifting part of the story, highlighting the richness of African-American culture, celebrating the bravery of civil rights heroes and documenting black firsts in fields like music, art, science and sports? Will the story end with the countrys having overcome its shameful history and approaching a state of racial harmony and equality? Or will the museum argue that the legacy of racism is still dominant and, if so, how will it make that case?

Several people involved with the African-American museum said that Mr. Bunch had learned from the experience of the Museum of the American Indian, which opened as the Smithsonians newest branch six years ago. Reluctant to impose a narrative written by white anthropologists and historians, the Indian museum largely rejected outside professional scholarship. Its exhibitions, which speak mainly in an American Indian voice, have been criticized as incoherent and plagued by romantic clich.

Mr. Bunch, by contrast, said he wanted his museum to reflect the best scholarship on black history, no matter who wrote it, and to tell a sweeping narrative from slavery to the present.
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 12:01 AM
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1. dang, kwassa. I should have looked before I leapt!
Didn't see that you had already posted this! :blush: :blush: :blush:
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