National Museum of the American Indian: A Disappointing Start

I haven’t yet made it down to the newly-opened National Museum of the American Indian, but Don Bordreaux’s take on the lack of science, particularly anthropology, is not encouraging. This CNN story suggests that history isn’t a big part of it either. So the remaining focus is culture–but culture devoid of historical or pre-historical context. This is really sad, given that it is officially a member of the Smithsonian family of museums. American Indians have a contentious relationship with history, as it has been written by the winners, and anthropology. Sadly, the latter is an almost exact mirror of the evolution battles by fundamentalist Christians (and, increasingly fundamentalist Muslims).

The good news is that the building, which actually fits in on the funky southern side of the Mall with its Hirschorn, Air and Space museum, and Smithsonian castle, is actually quite nice (I’ve been able to see it several times walking around that area). As long as that’s done right, the rest can improve over time.

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