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Wilkins reflects on the new National Museum of African American History and Culture

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wilkins reflects on the new National Museum of African American History and Culture

Dr. Craig L. Wilkins, a senior lecturer in architecture at Taubman College, reflects on the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in his article, “New Smithsonian museum creates moving statement” in the Detroit News (September 21, 2016). Wilkins was invited to a special preview of the museum a week before it opened to the public on September 24, 2016. The newest addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C., The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a project over a century in the making. Its location and its design represent the past, present, and future of the African American experience in ways that are both tangible and symbolic. On its architecture, Wilkins states “The design by F.A.B. — an unprecedented collaboration between architects of color Philip Freelon, David Adjaye, the late J. Max Bond, as well as the Michigan-based SmithGroup — can be described as a simple box upon which a network of delicate, intricately patterned panels are hung, the inspiration for which is drawn from the ironwork of enslaved craftsmen in New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina.” Wilkins reflects on its history, design, and his personal experience visiting the museum.

Wilkins writes “In a most particular way, the journey to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the journey of a people; an emphatic response to Langston Hughes’ famous poetic query, ‘What happens to a dream deferred?’ At its core, the new museum is essentially about that dream: how contagious it can be, how stubbornly fragile it remains and how deep its roots can run. It extends the understanding of the African-American, as well as our collective American experience in a country optimistic enough about its future to have elected its first African-American president yet still deeply conflicted about its racial past and present. The museum begins its effort to move a nation to the celebration it holds behind its complex, filigreed walls by staking permanent claim to its rightful place on the nation’s most prominent stage.”

Link to full article: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/nation/2016/09/21/new-smithsonian-museum-creates-moving-statement/90821128/

Link to museum: https://nmaahc.si.edu/