October 4, 2007
The Chronicle of Higher Education
This week the Smithsonian Institution opened a brand-new museum—online. It is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian’s 19th and newest museum.
The museum opened on the Web, as a virtual collection for scholarship and education, because bricks and mortar won’t be laid down in Washington, D.C., until 2012. It’s the first time a major museum has opened a virtual presence before putting up a real building.
The Web museum highlights a collection called “Let Your Motto Be Resistance,” portraits and photographs of people who stood against oppression in various ways, from Frederick Douglass to Ella Fitzgerald to Malcolm X.
The museum also has a “Memory Book”, which lets site visitors upload their memories in the form of stories, images, or audio recordings. An online map, which users can navigate, shows how these diverse memories are linked to each other and to content created by the museum to spotlight people, places, issues, and moments in African-American history.—Josh Fischman