clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How the Museum of the American People Can Renew Southwest

The National Museum of the American People is not only your favorite museum that has not yet arrived, it could be a vital part in the development of Southwest's Waterfront neighborhood. The museum's founder Sam Eskenazi believes that having a museum at his preferred site of Banneker Overlook could help draw tourists toward the developing Waterfront.
If the National Museum of the American People, which is still in its planning stages, comes to Banneker Overlook, it would be a block away from L'Enfant Plaza, the meeting point for four of the five metro lines. Eskenazi also likes the sight line between the Overlook and the Smithsonian Castle which is nearly direct. He believes that his quest for a Banneker Overlook museum would be good for two reasons. Due to his previous work at the Holocaust Museum, he knows that this is one of five spots in the city that the National Capital Planning Commission, Fine Arts Commission and National Park Service has determined as a viable spot for a new museum. Furthermore, he also speaks to a hearing that the NCPC had regarding a proposal to get people to come toward the development in Southwest. Eskenazi says that if the city planners are trying to give D.C. an equivalent to Baltimore's popular Inner Harbor, that this could be a cultural institution to anchor one end with the Arena Stage anchoring the other end.

Eskenazi has also gotten some preliminary support from the ANC members that he has met.

"They're protective of their neighborhood and what goes where but they seem open," he says.

Although the above design from architecture firm MTFA may not be the design the museum ultimately goes uses, Eskenazi thinks that particular design could also become something beneficial to the community. The four towers could resemble both the sails of the ships that early Europeans used to arrive in America and the four chapters in which the museum intends to tell the story. However, the greenery underneath those swooping towers is actually the roof. What's more, Eskenazi says that the design might be conducive to projections much like the Hirshhorn used during their "Song 1" installation last fall.

A lot needs to happen on the legislative end before this museum becomes a reality, but Eskenazi is certain that it his vision will come to fruition.

"It will be paying homage to old as well as looking ahead to the future," he says.
· Poll: What's Your Favorite Museum That Still Hasn't Arrived? [CDC]
· National Museum of the American People [Official Site]