African American Nmaac History

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AMS 251 Paper #2: Advise for the Curation of Smithsonian NMAAHC

In order to understand the story of America’s history one must attempt to comprehend the complexity of the history and culture of African Americans, a people who arguably should be given the credit for the profound success America has achieved since its inception in 1776. It is impossible to faultlessly encompass an entire race’s culture and history into a single, physical structure, let alone one as rich as African American’s, but it is important to transform the NMAAHC into a vessel that provides a bridge between the masses and the unfiltered history of African Americans. In order to shape the museum’s role, it is important that the museum act as an introspective tool for all
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A great deal of praise has been heaped on the Native American museum’s cafeteria for its expansive menu offering samples of various Native American dishes, and it in itself has been a big attraction for visitors. Although many people consume food that they tend to think hails from African American heritage, most of those dishes are mainstream versions as opposed to authentic flavors. This is why it is necessary that the NMAAHC have a high-quality, authentic soul food cafeteria, that serves up dishes like oxtails, okra and hushpuppies. To experience authentic cooking is to temporarily step into another culture, by immersing oneself in a combination of unfamiliar flavors and produce which is a byproduct of historical circumstances. Furthermore, an introduction to African American food is something that can transition outside the NMAAHC, and potentially provide a lasting incentive to visit traditionally African American cities and neighborhoods. Good food in itself would be a big draw for the NMAAHC, and beyond the fact that it would help further bridge cultures, it would also serve as a potential hotspot for native DC residents as the restaurant would be open both after museum hours, as well as on the weekends. This would help engage residents of DC to come visit the museum frequently and permit the museum to act as more than a tourist…show more content…
Exhibits that offer little structure offer visitors a cop-out to not fully engage with and begin to comprehend the themes of the exhibit. The Holocaust Museum tackles this challenge quite well, as their main permanent exhibit, “The Holocaust” is a highly structured exhibit, that essentially herds visitors throughout the three floor historical timeline. In order to “help all Americans see just how central African American history is for all of us” it is crucial that the main exhibit be a structured, one entrance, one exit exhibit that promotes thoughtful engagement with all the exhibit has to offer. In order to engage with the four core legs of the NMAAHC mission, the permanent exhibit should collaborate with other museums that highlight African American history and culture (ex: Anacostia Community Museum, African American Museum in Cleveland, and the Slave Mart Museum) to craft an exhibit that highlights the history and influence of black leaders and culture, both in America and internationally. This major exhibit should focus on the influence of prominent African American leaders and principles and thoughts that transcend black’s struggles in America, but also resonated in other global struggles. I propose that the exhibit highlight figures such as MLK, Malcolm X, Nat Turner, Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes, Harriet Tubman;
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