NYT critic derides Smithsonian's African-American history websiteBreaking News
He doesn’t want to wait until 2015 to begin it, and late last month the museum actually opened — not in the world of bricks and mortar but in the world of hyperlinks and tags. With $1 million in assistance from I.B.M., the Smithsonian Institution created what Mr. Bunch calls a “virtual platform,” a Web museum (nmaahc.si.edu)....
Unfortunately, though, these declared ambitions are jarring given the half-realized efforts on display. Even in the realm of hyperlinks, the mortar has a long way to go here before it congeals. Given the enormity of the interpretive project ahead, and its national importance, why was it prematurely undercut with something as thin and uninspiring as this site?
Consider the exhibition of portraits. If it were going to be unveiled on the Web, then why not do it in full? Many images are not available. All have brief, overly compressed biographical notes. And the essays from the show’s catalog are unavailable.
Even the selection of portraits seems unshaped by an interpretive idea. The exhibition’s title, “Let Your Motto Be Resistance,” is taken from a fervent message delivered to free Northern black Americans by a black clergyman, Henry Highland Garnet, in 1843. And while there are photos of some who variously resisted the debilitating forces arrayed against them — from W. E. B. Du Bois to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — the idea of resistance is interpreted so broadly and blandly as to also encompass artists like Diana Ross and Wynton Marsalis. The idea may be that given historical circumstances any achievement can be interpreted as a kind of resistance; but distinctions, even among political positions, are left unexplored, at least on the Web.
comments powered by Disqus
Vernon Clayson - 10/17/2007
There was great dignity in the earlier resistance movement but the current crop of African-Americans are mostly shrill and rude, demanding rather than seeking compromise in advancing the cause. None are heir to Du Bois or Martin Luther King, in their secret hearts they may even think of those two as Uncle Toms.
Al Sharpton as arbiter of good taste in the media, as spokesman for wrongs, real or imagined, against African Americans, need I say more?
- Rise of Donald Trump Tracks Growing Debate Over Global Fascism
- Tales of African-American History Found in DNA
- History Celebrates New Show Roots With Project to Digitize Post-Slavery Documents
- In 1453, this Ottoman sultan ended Christian rule in Constantinople. But was he a good Muslim?
- Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation among documents sold for $6.2m in New York
- History Relevance Campaign meets at the Smithsonian
- Bernard Lewis Turns 100
- David Lowenthal, author of "The Past Is a Foreign Country,” says it’s folly to scratch the names of slaveholders off buildings
- Jean Edward Smith, biographer of FDR and Ike, has a new biography coming out … of George W. Bush
- Flora Fraser, biographer of George and Martha Washington, wins $50,000 George Washington Prize