Winner Wednesdays: How to Build a Museum


How to Build a Museum by Tonya Bolden is an informational book that dives into the rich history of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bolden describes how this “hundred-year hope” of opening this museum finally came to life: from the idea of the museum of being just a dream, to the process of making it into a reality.


The book highlights the initial campaign to make this museum into a reality, which started in 1915 after the Civil War, and how the rise of black pride through the twentieth century fueled the popularity of the idea of the museum. Bolden then reveals to readers the political and organizational process that advocates of the museum went through to create this plan into action.


Bolden goes beyond the design features of the museum, the creative process, and other details into the creation of the NMAAHC; she discloses the artifact selection process. Curators and executives of the museum wanted visitors to not just gain an understanding of slavery, but learn about the people who went through the experience of slavery and discrimination. Bolden includes interesting real life pictures of the artifacts on display in the museum, which enables readers to feel like they are there themselves.


How to Build a Museum is a great educational tool for teaching children about slavery. This book helps emphasize the fact that “Black history” is not just for African Americans, but shapes all Americans into what our country and society is today. The pictures of artifacts and the pictures that clearly document the process of building the museum could invoke curiosity in children, and inspire them to visit the museum themselves. Additionally, this book could be an excellent resource for teachers to create a diverse book collection in their classroom library.


By: Kayla Pruitt


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