Saturday, May 13, 2017

Review: How to Build a Museum by Tonya Bolden

How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture by Tonya Bolden. 60 p. Smithsonian series. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, September, 2016. 9780451476371. (Review from purchased copy.)

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is free to the public, as are all of the Smithsonian museums, only, since its debut in September of 2016, it has become the hottest ticket in town. Seriously, if you are going to DC, don't plan on wandering in as you would all the other museums. You need to reserve a ticket online and there are none available until September. Only those won't be released until July! So, take a tour (of sorts) with this lovely book.

The road to this newest addition to the National Mall was long and arduous - 100 years long, suspended by the Great Depression, challenged by fundraising and finding the right spot for groundbreaking. Author Tonya Bolden chronicles the history succinctly, including the search for artifacts, one of which, an entire train car, that needed to be installed during construction of the museum because it was just too big to get in any other way. The second half of the books features themes and images from the museum's permanent collection.

Photos and maps are well-captioned and plentiful. The book is well-designed with a square trim and creamy backgrounds edged with lattice-work that mimics the lattice facade of the museum. A page with facts and figures, pages of Notes that include urls and an index conclude the volume.

Our eighth graders travel to DC every spring for three days and two nights. It's a packed trip and everyone comes back exhausted but happy. To prepare for the trip, each eighth grader has to research the city and the Mall and the monuments to create a travel binder. This book will make for a great resource for the assignment. 

It is truly a first-purchase!

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