Here at Last, Here at Last

Holland Cotter, “Review: The Smithsonian African American Museum Is Here at Last. And It Uplifts and Upsets,” The New Times, Sept. 15, 2016.The Smithsonian African American Museum

Holland Cotter is a Connecticut native that grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. This Harvard and Columbia University graduate is highly known for his Pulitzer Prize award for criticism. Holland Cotter’s latest review critiquing the Smithsonian African American Museum was an attempt to expound on the pros and cons of the museum after its grand opening. With thirteen years of development, the museum attempts to showcase the pain and pride of the African American history here in the US. Holland opens this magazine article describing how impressive and disappointing the physical features were compared to previous architectural designs. Holland states, “The other museums reflect light; this one absorbs it, making it look, despite its size, discreet and recessive, about silhouette rather than bulk,”(Cotter, 2016). Even though Holland labels this newly historical building as a must see, he feels as though the  architect’s, David Adjaye’s, design has some unintentional flaws. “The initial plan was to cast the façade panels, perforated with decorated patterns, in bronze. When that proves too costly, painted aluminum was substituted, with a loss of reflective sheen,”(Cotter, 2016). Holland talks about how the lack of reflective quality just makes the building look rusted and he even says it looks like a giant magnet bristling with metal filings. One of the pros mentioned about the final design of the exterior is that its visual intriguing. The reward comes from its repetitive viewing because the building’s texture appears to change at different angles.

Holland then descriptively guides the reader throughout building by meticulously describing majority of the content and historical objects shown inside of the museum. With five floors data-packed with historical events, Holland seamlessly flows from floor to floor explaining the museum’s setup. His over all analysis concludes that the facility did an outstanding job with mapping and planning how everything should be placed in the museum. He says, “Its great that the museum mixes everything together: It means you cant just select a comfortable version of history,”(Cotter, 2016). The only flaw that he mentioned pertaining to the information was the fact that there were a couple of topics missing. Holland felt as though the museum left out the importance of the AIDS epidemic in the African American culture, and the struggles of the identity of sexual orientation. In conclusion, Holland’s attempt to connect with his readers is solid. His mechanisms for painting the picture through descriptive explanation really keeps the audiences attention as if we were there in the flesh. This article has both pros and cons to help you draw an conclusive decision to see if this museum is worth checking out. There isnt too much to be confused about in this article because he clearly states all the popular topics that are interesting to the majority of the people.

-Justin Crayton


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