From the New York Times news section:
Smithsonian Picks Two Sites for Museums Honoring Latinos and Women
The Smithsonian board did not decide which museum will go where, and will not, until Congress approves the locations on the National Mall.
By Zachary Small
Oct. 27, 2022, 8:17 p.m. ET
The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents said on Thursday that it had found two “optimal” locations for its new museums on the southwestern side of the National Mall, but legislative approval is just one of the hurdles still to be cleared before construction can begin on the National Museum of the American Latino or the American Women’s History Museum.
For decades, advocates for new national institutions have fought to secure a position on the mall, where land is limited and often ribboned with rules that forbid construction.
The board did not specify which museum might go where, and it will not make that decision until Congress agrees to the sites and adopts legislation that allows construction to go forward.
Only one of the sites selected by the Smithsonian board directly fronts onto the mall’s promenade. That plot is located directly across the promenade from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The second spot is a bit farther away, near the eastern shore of the Tidal Basin, and across from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The distinctions between the two proposed locations, and the question of which museum would occupy each site, if approved, is likely to set off robust debate.
All these identity politics museums are another opportunity for the usual Coalition of the Fringes circular firing squad. What good are your expensively funded feminist activists if they can’t beat even the Latinx activists in a dick-measuring contest for the good spot on the National Mall across from the big time
black Black museum?
No doubt, once women and Latinx (Latinxes?) start scratching each other’s eyes out over who gets to be on the National Mall and who gets relegated down to the Tidal Basin, we shall be informed that the real villains are white men.
There are other ways to organize additional museums than by identity politics categories, such as by events, e.g., the Civil War, or art forms: e.g., the Museum of American Architecture or the Museum of 20th Century American Popular Culture.
Seriously, a Museum of 20th Century American Popular Culture sounds like the ideal combination of popularity and prestige, assuming you could come up with exhibits that you couldn’t enjoy 95% as much on your phone: maybe a hologram display of American dance. Are holograms really good yet? Or just do it Las Vegas–style and hire obscure but expert hoofers who look like Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson.
Among current Smithsonian museums (all admission free), in 2019, the Natural History Museum attracted 4.2 million visitors, followed by the Air and Space with 3.2 million, American History 2.8, American Art Museum 2.0 mil, the newish African-American History Museum 2.0, Zoo 1.8, and National Portrait Gallery 1.7. The somewhat underbaked American Indian museum is at 1.0.
The U.S. Holocaust Museum is not one of the Smithsonian museums, which might have something to do with the fact that, amazing as this may sound, the Holocaust did not take place in America. (I’d definitely visit a Mongol Invasion Museum, but it too isn’t part of American history.)
In general, in an era when you can call up a picture of anything you want on a screen, I suspect America is getting somewhat overstuffed with museums. When I drive across the country, I get a little depressed by all the road signs for museums that I don’t feel like stopping at.
In contrast, the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall seems like it hits the sweet spot of hosting venerable unique objects like the Wright Brothers’ Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck Yeager’s Glamorous Glennis, and the Apollo 11 command module that are big enough to impress more than, say, the dinky Mona Lisa impresses (my impression from over the shoulders of numerous tourists at the Louvre: Meh), but not so big that you can’t fit it into a building or even truck it downtown.
(They’ve now got a suburban campus with a couple of giant hangars for the really big stuff, like the Space Shuttle Discovery, a Blackbird SR-71, and a Concorde.)
What are going to be the big, knockout exhibits at the Women or Latino Museums?
After all, the Smithsonian already has Tito Puente’s timbales on display.