Thursday, July 19, 2007

National Museum of the American Indian

A little over 2 years ago I visited the National Museum of the American Indian, the newest component of the Smithsonian Institution. I was wowed by the architecture and design of the building and even the cafeteria. But somehow the exhibits left me unimpressed and disappointed. Beyond considering the exhibits as fragmented parts of a whole that I couldn’t quite grasp as a coherent theme, I didn’t spend much time thinking about what I disliked about the museum.

But now I’ve come across this excellent article, by Jacki Thompson Rand, "Why I Can't Visit the National Museum of the American Indian: Reflections of an accidental privileged insider, 1989-1994." Thompson Rand is great, she acknowledges and examines some of those simmering feelings that I had when I visited the museum that I didn’t quite know how to put into perspective. Check it out, it’s a very thoughtful look at the museum’s lost opportunities to challenge assumptions, increase awareness, and build political will for real social change.


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