Smaller Museums are Better for D.C.

According to The Washington Post, David Adjaye’s work for the National Museum of African-American History and Culture shrunk by 17 percent in a 2010 design review. Much of the downsizing came from the signature crown or “coronas” which are placed on top of the structure. The improved revision was well-received by NCPC members and the Tanzanian-born architect had this to say – “Now we feel it is stronger and purer.” Gustafson Guthrie Nichol serve as the project’s landscape designers. According to Philip Kennicott, the Seattle-based firm has the chance to soften The Mall’s imperial and arid landscape. A private groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for February 22nd. Let’s hope this guy gets an exhibit dedicated to him.

But over on Pennsylvania Avenue, you’ll find The Newseum is a prime example of how illusions of grandeur cloud the minds of museum planners.  We found much of the space wasted by a central atrium that rises six floors. The exhibits themselves could be easily housed in the American History Museum which appears to the most barren attraction we have visited. In this economy, it is our opinion that cultural leaders need to be incisive when it comes to financing these monstrosities. Moreover, one can only hope civic and cultural organizations realize that other parts of D.C. could be revived with a quarter of the investment they had allocated for a grand view on the already over-crowded National Mall. If you’re looking for effective planning, check out Madame Tussauds on F Street that keeps visitors amused in a more intimate and cost-efficient environment.

Photo Credit: GGN


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