How To Build A Museum by Tonya Bolden
Smithsonian Series; Viking (Penguin)
Kirkus: “An inspiring tale as well as a tantalizing invitation to visit one of our country’s newest “must see” attractions. (source notes)”
When the museum itself is history, the story needs to be document and the best way to do that is with author Tonya Bolden.
When I received this book in the mail, I knew I had to write about it and I also knew that I was too close to the author to review it. This is a somewhat biased opinion piece about Tonya’s most recent book.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been looking at postings about the National Museum of African American History and Culture which will have it’s grand opening next week. The images in the book show a magnificent building that was built on some of the most important space in this country for collecting history. Tonya’s book documents the legacy that got the museum funded and approved through Congress, that developed an architectural plan and that collected and curated items for the museum to house.
In telling the story of the museum, she identifies the roles so many people played in building this museum and in doing so, the important role we all play in creating history. Imagines throughout the book excite readers about what they will find in the museum’s collection while the text describes the symbolic details embedded in the building and the process of getting things done. Young readers will be able to take ownership of their part in history and not just see ‘history’ as belonging to someone else.
Published by the Smithsonian, How to Build a Museum has beautiful, high quality photos. Each page is laced with the design used to decorate the exterior of the museum. The editors did a wonderful job of organizing the photos to highlight the text and engage readers in the story.
How to Build A Museum is probably something any parent would want their child to read if they’re planning a trip to the museum or if they’re lovers of history. But, it could also be an important book for a young child who is searching for their own identity. Tonya quotes the museum’s Director, Lonnie Bunche, on the back of the book.
Whether your family’s been in this country two hundred years or twenty minutes… I want you to come to this museum and say, “I get it. This is not a black story. This is my story. This is the American story.”
As I read the book, and looked at all the realia, I started thinking about the artifacts, photos and letters I have from my family’s history. I don’t have much, but hope to maintain what I can to pass down to my children. I think this book reminded me of my history and it’s place in America’s history. I’m really excited to share this book with you!