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A Fool's Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump

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Founding Director Lonnie Bunch's deeply personal tale of the triumphs and challenges of bringing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to life. His story is by turns inspiring, funny, frustrating, quixotic, bittersweet, and above all, a compelling read. In its first four months of operation, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Americ Founding Director Lonnie Bunch's deeply personal tale of the triumphs and challenges of bringing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to life. His story is by turns inspiring, funny, frustrating, quixotic, bittersweet, and above all, a compelling read. In its first four months of operation, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture surpassed one million visits and quickly became a cherished, vital monument to the African American experience. And yet this accomplishment was never assured. In A Fool's Errand, founding director Lonnie Bunch tells his story of bringing his clear vision and leadership to bear to realize this shared dream of many generations of Americans. Outlining the challenges of site choice, architect selection, building design, and the compilation of an unparalleled collection of African American artifacts, Bunch also delves into his personal struggles--especially the stress of a high-profile undertaking--and the triumph of establishing such an institution without mentors or guidebooks to light the way. His memoir underscores his determination to create a museum that treats the black experience as an essential component of every American's identity. This inside account of how Bunch planned, managed, and executed the museum's mission informs and inspires not only readers working in museums, cultural institutions, and activist groups, but also those in the nonprofit and business worlds who wish to understand how to succeed--and do it spectacularly--in the face of major political, structural, and financial challenges.


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Founding Director Lonnie Bunch's deeply personal tale of the triumphs and challenges of bringing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to life. His story is by turns inspiring, funny, frustrating, quixotic, bittersweet, and above all, a compelling read. In its first four months of operation, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Americ Founding Director Lonnie Bunch's deeply personal tale of the triumphs and challenges of bringing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to life. His story is by turns inspiring, funny, frustrating, quixotic, bittersweet, and above all, a compelling read. In its first four months of operation, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture surpassed one million visits and quickly became a cherished, vital monument to the African American experience. And yet this accomplishment was never assured. In A Fool's Errand, founding director Lonnie Bunch tells his story of bringing his clear vision and leadership to bear to realize this shared dream of many generations of Americans. Outlining the challenges of site choice, architect selection, building design, and the compilation of an unparalleled collection of African American artifacts, Bunch also delves into his personal struggles--especially the stress of a high-profile undertaking--and the triumph of establishing such an institution without mentors or guidebooks to light the way. His memoir underscores his determination to create a museum that treats the black experience as an essential component of every American's identity. This inside account of how Bunch planned, managed, and executed the museum's mission informs and inspires not only readers working in museums, cultural institutions, and activist groups, but also those in the nonprofit and business worlds who wish to understand how to succeed--and do it spectacularly--in the face of major political, structural, and financial challenges.

30 review for A Fool's Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    As a museum professional I have read a lot of museum books but I have never read a museum book like this one. It will remain one of the best books I have ever read. I had tears, chills, outrage. I held my breath at times. It was full of glorious emotion. I’m still in awe that Bunch created the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture starting with a staff of one, no money, no collections, and no building. And what he created is a beautiful history of America. As he wro As a museum professional I have read a lot of museum books but I have never read a museum book like this one. It will remain one of the best books I have ever read. I had tears, chills, outrage. I held my breath at times. It was full of glorious emotion. I’m still in awe that Bunch created the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture starting with a staff of one, no money, no collections, and no building. And what he created is a beautiful history of America. As he wrote, it is a museum of the American experience, from the perspective of a community. It is an American history museum. I’ve been to the museum a few times, and it is profoundly moving on many levels. He built one of the most beautiful buildings, and furnished it with a staff, collections, history, culture and love. He accomplished this Herculean task while navigating the obstacles of working with the Federal government, a notoriously bureaucratic organization, and race. And he did all of this in 11 years! He is careful to credit everyone who made this mission possible, from the truly accomplished staff he hired to all of the people who donated the necessary funds. This could have been an incredibly boring, but informative and important book to read. But Bunch has a magical way with words. He made this book a page-turner. His vast knowledge of history, his incredible experience, and his storytelling genius combined to create this wonderful work. Throughout this history of the creation of the NMAAHC he gave us marvelous, and titillating tidbits about working with the federal government and the Smithsonian institutions. Lonnie Bunch had a vision and he made it happen. And we can all see what a great vision it is every time we stand outside or set foot inside the NMAAHC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    From its preface through its final pages, Lonnie Bunch III’s A Fool’s Errand seamlessly weaves together the personal and the political in ways that humanize the work that went into envisioning, planning, funding, building, and opening the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture... It is a valuable contribution to the conversations Americans need to have in order to reshape history by acknowledging race at the country’s center.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    Living near the District of Columbia, I followed the development of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC - Congress named it) with interest. A new museum on the Mall is a rare thing, and I feared it might end in disappointment, as did the National Museum of the American Indian. But Lonnie Bunch was an inspired choice to bring it to creation, and he did not disappoint. He conceived a broad American theme, informative to all, and at the opening ceremony he opened his Living near the District of Columbia, I followed the development of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC - Congress named it) with interest. A new museum on the Mall is a rare thing, and I feared it might end in disappointment, as did the National Museum of the American Indian. But Lonnie Bunch was an inspired choice to bring it to creation, and he did not disappoint. He conceived a broad American theme, informative to all, and at the opening ceremony he opened his arms and the museum to all America and said "Welcome home." Bunch recounts his more than ten year effort in a comfortable narrative which reveals his hard work, creative energy, overriding vision, management skill, fundraising ability, and self deprecating sense of humor. He stayed grounded throughout and overcame daunting obstacles and mind boggling details to get the museum open while "the brother" President Obama was still in office. He insisted on the highest standards of excellence and scholarship, and the results are evident. It is a magnificent museum. Bunch has since been named the director of the entire Smithsonian system. He has left a lasting legacy at NMAAHC (Congress named it) and the story of how he did it is a worthwhile read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Char

    A feel-good tale of success, where so many people's hard work, dedication, and historical savvy come together to reach this momentous achievement. Four stars instead of five because the rose-colored glasses seemed too thick at some parts. How can you bemoan the ruin of Hurricane Katrina, and later praise George W Bush without acknowledging the role he played in that catastrophe? Otherwise a valuable resource in demonstrating what strong, creative, and thoughtful leadership can look like! A feel-good tale of success, where so many people's hard work, dedication, and historical savvy come together to reach this momentous achievement. Four stars instead of five because the rose-colored glasses seemed too thick at some parts. How can you bemoan the ruin of Hurricane Katrina, and later praise George W Bush without acknowledging the role he played in that catastrophe? Otherwise a valuable resource in demonstrating what strong, creative, and thoughtful leadership can look like!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shercole

    I loved it so much I finally became a member.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie Whitman

    I really enjoyed this memoir of the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I have visited twice on my kids' 8th grade DC trips, and now I can't wait to go back. What an amazing accomplishment and tremendous amount of work, vision, and persistence. I never thought I wanted to know how to build a museum from scratch, but my goodness it's a really interesting and inspiring story. I really enjoyed this memoir of the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I have visited twice on my kids' 8th grade DC trips, and now I can't wait to go back. What an amazing accomplishment and tremendous amount of work, vision, and persistence. I never thought I wanted to know how to build a museum from scratch, but my goodness it's a really interesting and inspiring story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    A Fool's Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump by Lonnie G. Bunch III This book is a very personal story written by Lonnie Bunch III, the first director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The reader learns about Bunch’s upbringing in New Jersey, his education, prior work experience and some of his family history. The story relates much of the detail behind the creation of the museum. A Fool's Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump by Lonnie G. Bunch III This book is a very personal story written by Lonnie Bunch III, the first director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The reader learns about Bunch’s upbringing in New Jersey, his education, prior work experience and some of his family history. The story relates much of the detail behind the creation of the museum. Dr. Bunch relates, the difficulties in getting funding, the decision and permissions for its placement on The Mall in Washington, DC, along with the architectural design, and construction of the building and dedication. It’s a fascinating story, at times is deeply touching. Most interesting to me was the engineering and technical challenges that went into the construction of the contemplative court waterfall located on the first floor. Dr. Bunch deserves credit for accomplishing the creation of the NMAAHC, but as a good manager you learn he gives most of the credit to all the people and organizations that supported him during this 11 year endeavor. The reader also learns much about Bunch’s management style and his compassion for people. This book is simply a great story and one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read recently, it certainly deserves Five Stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Creech

    I cried a lot reading this book - and I mean that as a high compliment. As a museum professional, the enormity of this task is overwhelming, but Lonnie’s frank discussion of his triumphs, his moments of imposter syndrome, and his gratitude to his team were wonderful to read about. Highly recommend for learning lessons of leadership and empathy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura Cameron

    This book touches on so much! It’s about leadership, innovation, building a dream, and humanity. The author has spent his life spinning stories together in museums, and it shows with this story which is engaging and thoughtfully written. I laughed, cried, and gasped! I am recommending this book to everyone I know.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    There had been talk about creating a national museum dedicated to African-Americans for nearly 100 years. This book tells the story of how the museum finally came to be. And not only brought into existence but as another Smithsonian museum AND on the Mall in DC. President Bush signed the bill into law in 2005 and supported the museum being on the Mall. Then Mr. Bunch started by hiring one person and eleven years later they opened a museum. They literally started with only an office in L'Enfant P There had been talk about creating a national museum dedicated to African-Americans for nearly 100 years. This book tells the story of how the museum finally came to be. And not only brought into existence but as another Smithsonian museum AND on the Mall in DC. President Bush signed the bill into law in 2005 and supported the museum being on the Mall. Then Mr. Bunch started by hiring one person and eleven years later they opened a museum. They literally started with only an office in L'Enfant Plaza and no artifacts. But through Mr. Bunch's abilities to bring wealthy donors to the table, prod Congress into budget line items, and finding 60 scholars to consult on the exhibits they built a museum that President Obama dedicated in 2016. Fascinating and very in-the-weeds retelling of how to start a museum from scratch while navigating the federal bureaucracy. One story I found particularly interesting was how they found items for the museum's collection. They found the artifacts by holding a moving Antiques Roadshow-type of event in different cities around the country. "By the end of a decade, the museum went from not having a single artifact to having more than 35,000. Thanks to the work of a thoughtful and tireless curatorial and collections staff, 70 percent of the museum holdings came from the basements, garages, and attics, from the homes of a diverse array of Americans who trusted the Smithsonian brand and soon came to trust the National Museum of African American History and Culture." I learned a lot! Now if only I could get tickets to attend the museum--they've been sold out every time I've tried to go. Boo!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Hawkins

    Excellent book. So very inspiring.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carianne Carleo-Evangelist

    This book isn’t linear, but nor was Bunch’s journey to create the National Museum of African American Culture and History on the National Mall. From its inception to opening it was more than a century of stops and starts. Bunch and his leadership team took it the last 12 ish years which involved the presidencies of the younger Bush and Obama, the latter of which Bunch knew from his tenure in Chicago. I’ve been to the museum but didn’t know anywhere near enough about its creation. I loved the Tre This book isn’t linear, but nor was Bunch’s journey to create the National Museum of African American Culture and History on the National Mall. From its inception to opening it was more than a century of stops and starts. Bunch and his leadership team took it the last 12 ish years which involved the presidencies of the younger Bush and Obama, the latter of which Bunch knew from his tenure in Chicago. I’ve been to the museum but didn’t know anywhere near enough about its creation. I loved the Treasures campaign to build the museum’s collection, and Bunch’s journey to Mozambique to learn about the sunken slave ship the Sao Jose. Though he logged thousands of fundraising miles the local trips to Capitol Hill to secure funding sometimes seemed the most arduous. A fascinating read whether or not you’ve been to the museum. America needs this museum and this story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    alden vaughan

    On the Way to the Mall Lonnie Bunch brilliantly takes the reader on the journey he experienced of creating this national treasure. The road to the mall was rocky and rough, but the path Lonnie traveled was straight and sure. This is a must read for all Americans.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    In the first week of March 2020, I found myself in a bus with three other chaperones and the most of our school's junior class (they were going to be our school's first graduating class and there were less than 40 of them in the bus) driving up from Florida to Washington DC where we would spend Spring Break exploring various highlights in the city. I was most excited to visit the MAAHC since it had not been opened the last time I had been to DC a handful of years before. I remember that the new c In the first week of March 2020, I found myself in a bus with three other chaperones and the most of our school's junior class (they were going to be our school's first graduating class and there were less than 40 of them in the bus) driving up from Florida to Washington DC where we would spend Spring Break exploring various highlights in the city. I was most excited to visit the MAAHC since it had not been opened the last time I had been to DC a handful of years before. I remember that the new coronavirus, COVID-19, had reached American shores. Not knowing much about it, students and teachers brought hand sanitizers and cold medicine to protect ourselves. One of the chaperones talked about a toilet paper shortage in Washington state. We laughed at how ridiculous that sounded. We went to DC, visited too many places to list, and came back to school where we relived the highlights of the trip for a week. We went to our homes on Friday afternoon not knowing that Governor DeSantis was cancelling school for two weeks, which ultimately became eLearning for the rest of the school year. In the months following I keep thinking of how we were blessed to have had such a perfect trip. How our underprivileged students, many of whom had never left the state before, got to share this experience with their friends before all travel ceased. I kept that trip in mind as I read Bunch's story of how the MAAHC came to be. I recalled the various exhibits as Bunch recounted how the museum acquired them. I could visualize the architectural features as Bunch spoke about design and construction. My heart swelled as his vision and hard work turned the museum into a reality because I knew what the Museum meant to the bunch of Latinx students, this Latina teacher, the two white chaperones, the two African American chaperones, and the one African American student who were part of our group. That museum visit changed our lives and it indubitably was the highlight of the trip.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Sissons

    I picked up this book in January 2020 when I visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture for the first time. In previous visits to Washington, D.C. I had seen the signs for the museum to be built and later large groups of people and multi-generation families waiting to get get in. This time, I finally was able to go in and I was extremely impressed by the layout and the means used to describe the arc of African-American history. I only had the time to see the main gallery I picked up this book in January 2020 when I visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture for the first time. In previous visits to Washington, D.C. I had seen the signs for the museum to be built and later large groups of people and multi-generation families waiting to get get in. This time, I finally was able to go in and I was extremely impressed by the layout and the means used to describe the arc of African-American history. I only had the time to see the main gallery, but with its descending elevator to the past and the quality of the exhibits, I felt like I had taken in a lot. Picking up this book was a way to keep the visit going from a distance - I never anticipated that I would be as drawn in as I was. The candid reflections of Lonnie G. Bunch III made me feel as if I was sitting down for a comfortable coffee with him as he reflected on the long journey to make this museum a reality. The work to make the museum visible even before it was established in a building was astounding, and I look forward to exploring the web presence of this museum more. As a historian, I was struck by the quote from an individual called Mr. Jenkins early in the book that Bunch refers to throughout the work: "[I]f you are a historian then your job better be to help people remember not just what they want to remember, but what they need to remember." (4-5) From what I saw, and I feel like I barely scratched the surface of this amazing institution after reading the book, every effort has been made to make this a reality. I encourage you to read this book, and to go see the museum as soon as travelling is possible again.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    A compelling (mostly candid) story of the Museum of African American History and Culture as it evolved from concept to a building on the mall. Bunch is a gifted leader, a mastermind able to pull all the pieces together. He had the background and leadership skills needed and was also a great storyteller and salesman. He sold the story that the museum was an American story so compellingly that he created advocates and believers. He demonstrated a strong ego, believed in his own skills and "gut" in A compelling (mostly candid) story of the Museum of African American History and Culture as it evolved from concept to a building on the mall. Bunch is a gifted leader, a mastermind able to pull all the pieces together. He had the background and leadership skills needed and was also a great storyteller and salesman. He sold the story that the museum was an American story so compellingly that he created advocates and believers. He demonstrated a strong ego, believed in his own skills and "gut" instincts, able to bend people to his point of view. He also had enormous enthusiasm and energy for the task. This was not a place for humility - and his humility does not appear often in his telling! This "thank everyone" book often became slightly tedious with too long litanies of the many people (named) working in background. At times it felt like a little too earnest and heavy love song - I loved them and they loved me! Really? All of them? One major omission was the MLK story. It was reported in the national press at the opening that the King family refused to part with any of the King artifacts for the museum. This resulted in King's legacy appearing to many as understated in the Museum. Curious - this must have been a terrible disappointment for Bunch and maybe too much to face in the book

  17. 4 out of 5

    Valeska

    When I was in Americorps, we had a Leadership Library. I couldn't help but think how this book belongs in that library. The Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture wrote about his experiences creating the museum. They started with a staff of 2 in the mid-2000s and ended with a staff of over 200 in 2016. I did not know that an idea of this museum had been around since the 1920s. Also John Lewis brought it up every year for 20 years in Congress. I really app When I was in Americorps, we had a Leadership Library. I couldn't help but think how this book belongs in that library. The Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture wrote about his experiences creating the museum. They started with a staff of 2 in the mid-2000s and ended with a staff of over 200 in 2016. I did not know that an idea of this museum had been around since the 1920s. Also John Lewis brought it up every year for 20 years in Congress. I really appreciated learning the history of the museum. Also, I liked the inside baseball of the fundraising necessary to start the Museum. They needed 500 million dollars to fund it. It took asks of many donors and they only had a 50% success rate, up from the usual 33% of normal fundraisers. I especially liked the story of the 200,000 Founding Members raising 5 million dollars. Also, there is a great story discussing the generosity of Oprah Winfrey. I would also recommend the stories of the collection of the artifacts. There are so many interesting anecdotes. This is such an inspiring book! Please read it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I mostly enjoyed this account of the creation of the African American Museum in Washington, D.C. I hope to visit the museum someday and having the background of the struggle to get it built will no doubt enrich my experience. Throughout the first half of the book, I thought I'd be giving it four stars. It certainly is interesting learning all that goes into creating a museum from scratch. However, as the writing became repetitive and the typo count added up (seriously, was there ANY editing of th I mostly enjoyed this account of the creation of the African American Museum in Washington, D.C. I hope to visit the museum someday and having the background of the struggle to get it built will no doubt enrich my experience. Throughout the first half of the book, I thought I'd be giving it four stars. It certainly is interesting learning all that goes into creating a museum from scratch. However, as the writing became repetitive and the typo count added up (seriously, was there ANY editing of this manuscript?), I found myself just wanting to be done with it. I wanted much more about where they found artifacts, the significance of said artifacts and photos. I was disappointed on all counts. Oh, and Lonnie G Bunch III LOVES to use the phrase "shaped by." Dude needs to buy a thesaurus. If I'd been playing a drinking game as I read the book where I drank every time he said he or the process was "shaped by" some influence I would have died from alcohol poisoning by chapter three.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ellice

    I've long found Lonnie Bunch to be a smart and eloquent speaker, so had high expectations for this book. Those expectations were met to a degree, but not entirely. There were some really interesting anecdotes here about the political maneuvering required to create an entirely new museum, and the challenges of creating a collection from the ground up. But there was an awful lot of Bunch pointing out his own skill in accomplishing these feats.  Clearly he is an experienced and talented museum lead I've long found Lonnie Bunch to be a smart and eloquent speaker, so had high expectations for this book. Those expectations were met to a degree, but not entirely. There were some really interesting anecdotes here about the political maneuvering required to create an entirely new museum, and the challenges of creating a collection from the ground up. But there was an awful lot of Bunch pointing out his own skill in accomplishing these feats.  Clearly he is an experienced and talented museum leader, but I would rather have inferred this from the work he did instead of having Bunch himself consistently pointing it out. The book also suffered from a lack of (or uncareful) copyediting--there were many sentences clearly missing a word, and a lot of phrasing that could have been improved with a careful once-over. Still, worth reading if you are interested in the development of NMAAHC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    After seeing a conversation between Mr. Bunch and our Librarian of Congress (Carla Hayden) on YouTube, I immediately checked out his audiobook from the library. I adored this book and have been telling everyone who will listen about it. Mr. Bunch tells his long tale of building the NMAAHC with frankness, determination, and lots of praise for the folks who worked with him. His honesty and humor shine through, along with his love of music, history, family, and pride in his work. Turns out I am now After seeing a conversation between Mr. Bunch and our Librarian of Congress (Carla Hayden) on YouTube, I immediately checked out his audiobook from the library. I adored this book and have been telling everyone who will listen about it. Mr. Bunch tells his long tale of building the NMAAHC with frankness, determination, and lots of praise for the folks who worked with him. His honesty and humor shine through, along with his love of music, history, family, and pride in his work. Turns out I am now a huge library/museum nerd and proud of it, especially if it means I can fulfill my dream of visiting the NMAAHC and to see Mr. Bunch's imprint on it. From fund raising to wrestling with government red tape and the challenges of building a gorgeous museum on a swamp, Mr. Bunch's grace, diplomacy, and heart have made him my new national hero.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    I Loved this book. I loved the flow of it, the woven history (personal and historical), the humor and mostly especially the humanity of Dr Bunch’s personal stories and writings. Thank you for the heads up on this title Leslie. Your recommendations always prove inspired. I know my visit to NMAAHC will be greatly enriched by my reading of this book and it’s journey into existence. How lucky are we to have it and to be able to visit it. I loved a Napoleon quote on page 254 “define reality and give I Loved this book. I loved the flow of it, the woven history (personal and historical), the humor and mostly especially the humanity of Dr Bunch’s personal stories and writings. Thank you for the heads up on this title Leslie. Your recommendations always prove inspired. I know my visit to NMAAHC will be greatly enriched by my reading of this book and it’s journey into existence. How lucky are we to have it and to be able to visit it. I loved a Napoleon quote on page 254 “define reality and give hope.” As well as the thread of Princy Jenkins words page 4 “if you are a historian then your job better be to help people remember not just what they want to remember, but what they need to remember.”

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julia Alberino

    This is a remarkable chronicle of the long journey to create, build, and finally open, the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The reader will gain a new or renewed appreciation of all that goes into making a museum. This book will also lay to rest any remaining doubts that African American history is indeed American history. Dr. Bunche has an engaging writing style that saves the book from ever seeming pedantic. It only took me this long to read because I was reading it wit This is a remarkable chronicle of the long journey to create, build, and finally open, the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The reader will gain a new or renewed appreciation of all that goes into making a museum. This book will also lay to rest any remaining doubts that African American history is indeed American history. Dr. Bunche has an engaging writing style that saves the book from ever seeming pedantic. It only took me this long to read because I was reading it with a group and didn't want to get too far ahead of the weekly discussions. I recommend this book to everyone!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kylea

    An important book that captures the historic accomplishment and importance of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is more than simply documentation of the newest building on the National mall. It is a narration of the American journey, a call to remember, to celebrate, and never stop striving to live up to the ideals of equality and justice for all. Yes, at times it reads like a long acknowledgement section but the hidden history, stories of resilience and hope, plus An important book that captures the historic accomplishment and importance of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is more than simply documentation of the newest building on the National mall. It is a narration of the American journey, a call to remember, to celebrate, and never stop striving to live up to the ideals of equality and justice for all. Yes, at times it reads like a long acknowledgement section but the hidden history, stories of resilience and hope, plus the behind the scenes glimpse into the creation make it well worth the read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    The author tells the compelling story of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum's name is a bit unwieldy, but the content of the book is not. Mr. Bunch walks readers from the idea of the NMAAHC to the bronze and mortar museum it is today. Bravo, Mr. Bunch! You are to be admired for doing what you did, as well as for telling the story of how you did what you did so beautifully. The author tells the compelling story of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum's name is a bit unwieldy, but the content of the book is not. Mr. Bunch walks readers from the idea of the NMAAHC to the bronze and mortar museum it is today. Bravo, Mr. Bunch! You are to be admired for doing what you did, as well as for telling the story of how you did what you did so beautifully.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Read this book on audio. I found this book really interesting and it made me want to go to the museum so badly. Bunch wrote about the development of the museum with introspection, intelligence, and humor. Took a little while for me to get into it and the narration was a bit slow (1.25 speed was perfect for me) but once I got past the initial chapters of meetings and into the discussions of the location and especially collecting artifacts, I was hooked.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan Morris

    Interesting account of the founding of the National Museum of African American History & Culture, by the founding director. So cool that as I was reading it, the Kennedy Center musical program honoring its opening happened to re-air in June 2020! (Own)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cath Holden

    3.5. I really liked this book and I found sections very fascinating. At times, I got bored with the explanations of the bureaucracy and the thanking of Poole. I would definitely recommend this to people in public history. Insightful and honest.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    The journey of creating and curating the NMAAHC was really interesting and I enjoyed learning about it. I'd give the story itself 4 stars. The writing and style wasn't compelling. The journey of creating and curating the NMAAHC was really interesting and I enjoyed learning about it. I'd give the story itself 4 stars. The writing and style wasn't compelling.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    A very niche subject that I thoroughly enjoyed. Very in the weeds.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kendall Hill

    A great book on doing a small or major project.

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