Sunday Morning Open Thread: A Good Day to (Virtually) Visit A Museum


Timely!

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture launched a sophisticated digital platform Thursday that brings a trove of interactive stories, images and video about the Black experience out of the museum and onto the Internet.

Called the Searchable Museum, it is designed to present the treasures of the five-year-old landmark on the National Mall in Washington to a broader audience, said museum director Kevin Young. The museum, which opened to the public on Sept. 24, 2016, has 40,000 artifacts…

Young said the digital access will allow the public to view exhibits at their own pace and in their own time. “I really see it as an incredible resource for visitors … who really want to either experience the museum for the first time or return again and again online,” he said.

“And there’s things you can see [virtually] that you can’t see in person,” he said.

For example, a meticulously preserved slave cabin from Edisto Island, S.C., is on display in the museum. “What you can’t do in the museum is go inside it,” Young said. But now you can, digitally.

The visitor can also take a grim 3-D virtual tour of the slave ship L’Aurore, for which a complete set of building plans survives…

“This is just the start,” Young said. “We’re looking right now at phase two and stories we can tell next.”

“This is African American history, which is central to American history,” he said. “To understand American history, we have to understand this. We have to understand the impact of slavery on life today. This is true for everyone.”

The exhibition opens with words from the late African American poet Maya Angelou: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived; but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

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