February 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

How To Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture by Tonya Bolden | SLJ Review

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redstarBOLDEN, Tonya. How To Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. 64p. index. notes. photos. Viking. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780451476371.

how-to-build-a-musuemGr 5 Up –One hundred years ago, the National Memorial Association was formed to establish a monument honoring African American veterans of the Civil War. It took years to get Congressional support, but finally, in the late 1920s, a bill was passed to create a committee to establish a museum dedicated to African American contributions to our nation. While the committee was abolished during the Depression, the dream was not. However, it took another 70 years of urging by activists and politicians to renew interest in the project. Bolden investigates this history and the search for a museum director and artifacts, including the national call for “treasures” and the related national tour by curators in search of items for the collection. In addition, she discusses the museum’s location on the National Mall, a place once bordered by “holding pens for enslaved people bound for the Deep South.” Archival and contemporary photos and reproductions of artwork and other materials enhance this clearly written, well-documented book. The images increase in the second half and highlight the museum’s permanent collections devoted to slavery and freedom; segregation; African American religious, civic, and educational institutions, communities, military experience; and other topics. Here, introductory paragraphs discuss the focus of the exhibits and the questions they ask, while captions add fascinating detail about the items presented. VERDICT An important, profusely illustrated account of the history, building, and collections of a national treasure.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal October 2016 issue.

Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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