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Reflection on Trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum

Photo: Elvert Barnes Source Licence

Photo: Elvert Barnes Source Licence

Marcus Mahtemework, Staff Writer

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Photo: Elvert Barnes Source Licence
Through our class’s opportunity to travel to the African American History Museum I had the chance to strengthen my knowledge of the lives and daily actions of those who were enslaved in the United States, as well as the contributions that have been made to our society by African Americans in areas such as sports, art, science, culture, and civil rights. The most important thing that I learned at the museum today was the definition for lynching from the perspective of a white southerner, which was described as an effort to protect womanhood –  many cases of lynching were based off falsified or exaggerated claims of interaction between a black man and a white woman. I believed that this meaning is powerful because it gives me the assurance that those who were lynched were not, in fact, bad people but, instead, were just black men who were disliked by some in the community and who could be disposed of through these accusations. Of the museum’s many strengths, it’s most prominent one in my eyes would be that nearly every exhibit was interactive; whether it is the voices in the background narrating our paths through the exhibits in accurate historical, regional accents, or film footage of Civil Rights marches down South, the museum does a great job of bombarding visitors with a large amount of sensory experiences, which, as a result, successfully transports us back in time.  Despite all positive aspects of the museum, the large amount of heavily visual areas gave some exhibits an overwhelming feel. The greatest strength of the museum is also its biggest flaw, because even though exhibits are teeming with information, the aesthetic of overlap, density, and collage make some areas easy to miss, and at times hard to read. The designers, in this aspect, should have been slightly more concerned with spatial distribution of historical pieces instead of attempting to hypnotize visitors with a barrage of color and sound. All in all, the trip to this museum was an eye opening and informative experience – one which I hope to undertake again sometime.

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