Greater Greater Washington

Where should the Latino museum go?

Congress has declared the National Mall a "completed work of civic art" and declared that future museums and memorials should go on sites outside the Mall, but that hasn't stopped them from making exception after exception. Now, the planned National Museum of the American Latino wants to be on the Mall, too, and looks likely to get it.

After all, the National Museum of the American Indian is on the Mall (before the moratorium was enacted), and the National Museum of African-American Art and Culture got to be on the Mall even after the moratorium. Therefore, Latino groups ruled out all non-Mall sites originally proposed, reports the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, leaving four:


Image from NCPC.

Some of the Mall sites under consideration wouldn't require building new structures in open space, or would at least reuse parts of existing structures. One (green oval, above) would be to use the currently-vacant yet beautiful Arts and Industries Building. However, it's too small and can't facilitate exhibits, so the suggestion is to also replace part of the Forrestal Building across Independence Avenue and connect the two with a tunnel.


Photo by cliff1066 on Flickr.
I consider the Forrestal Building to be the ugliest building in DC, and hopefully one modern structure preservationists won't try to keep. NCPC's long-term plan calls for redeveloping the site as well. However, the GSA representative told NCPC they aren't ready to redevelop it right now, making that site potentially infeasible.

Another option would be to use the Whitten Building (blue oval), which currenly houses the Department of Agriculture. The museum would add two stories atop on of the building's wings and build a structure in an adjacent surface parking lot. Filling in a parking lot is appealing, but the Coalition wonders if altering one wing of this "symmetrical, beaux-arts building" would pass historic muster.

The other two options involve building in what is currently open space. One site (purple oval, above) is adjacent to the Capitol between Pennsylvania, Constitution, and 1st NW, the site directly opposite the Botanic Garden. DCmud notes that this was originally envisioned to house a museum by the McMillan Plan. However, the Architect of the Capitol controls this land, and rejected it for the African-American museum.

Finally, there's the land between 14th and 15th, SW along Independence, opposite the site for the African-American museum. A new building would be built here, and offices would go in the historic Yates Building across Independence. The Coalition sees that as the most likely but also very undesirable, because it's considered part of the Washington Monument grounds. However, NPS didn't object to this site at the NCPC meeting.

What do you think of these sites? The Coalition also notes that NCPC only held an "informational" presentation, which afforded no opportunity for public comment, and urged NCPC to engage in a public discussion about this issue.

While Mall proliferation is a real problem, now that the American Indians and African-Americans are getting a museum, it seems not unreasonable for Latinos to get one as well, as one of the US's largest minority groups. But it's important to resist further proliferation, because there is an endless list of other groups as well.

As DCmud jokingly notes, "Fear not, Lithuanians and Samoans, you too may someday have your chance." That would be disastrous. It's also perhaps somewhat unlikely, but what about non-ethnic minorities? Should there be a women's museum and a museum about elderly people and one for persons with disabilities?

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitors center was more troubling because it opened the door to visitors' centers for veterans of every war. I'm less disturbed by more cultural museums on the Mall than memorials or memorial visitors' centers. There are always going to be more wars and more great leaders, and unless we start retiring memorials as Philip Kennicott suggested, they threaten to clutter the Mall up without pause for every historic event or figure that has a number of dedicated adherents.

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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Ugliest building in DC? That's a bold statement considering the competition!

by Erik W on Jul 16, 2010 10:07 am • linkreport

Structures that need to be razed:

FBI Building
Forrestal Building
The awful bunker on the west side of the white house (17th St)
The list goes on and on...

The problem is, time is running out. The preservation extremists already try to consider all of these 50 year old structures "historic". Keep one or two, but destroy the rest because they are anti-human.

Also... I know exactly what's needed at the National Mall. Restaurants, cafes, and a bar or two. The stodgy powers that be would be aghast at that thought, but it just plain makes sense. The poor tourists... they have to eat at those awful kiosks or hotdog vendors, or march up into Chinatown. And poor us, as residents. The Mall has nothing more than museums and a bare patch of grass for permanent residents of the area. We should truly "Europeanize" the mall by adding active uses on the periphery. The sculpture garden is a great example of what to emulate(one of the truly active spaces on the Mall).

So to that point, the Arts & Industries building would be perfect for a restaurant pavilion, with significant outdoor seating. (Maybe with foods from around the country/world?) And they need serious restaurant vendors, not just the concessionaires of the world.

by SG on Jul 16, 2010 10:24 am • linkreport

But where will the mosque go if there's no more space?

by aaa on Jul 16, 2010 10:26 am • linkreport

I have been to many meetings in the Forrestal building, and it is truly ugly both inside and out. To my taste, the Arts and Industries building is pretty ugly too, but there aren't many examples of this style left in the city, so it's worth preserving even aside from its role in the history of the Smithsonian. If all the other ugly modernist buildings could be swept out of D.C., there would be merit to preserving the Forrestal building as a warning to future architects.

by Ben Ross on Jul 16, 2010 10:28 am • linkreport

I want a museum of American Science & Technology.

by Jasper on Jul 16, 2010 10:28 am • linkreport

How about they put it somewhere off the Mall, like on South Capitol Street? And seriously, who won't get a Mall museum at some point?

by Fritz on Jul 16, 2010 10:29 am • linkreport

Whatever happened to the NCPC plan to turn RFK and surrounded acres of parking into a kind of extension of the mall, with monuments, museums, etc? That would solve this problem, and get rid of those surface lots.
www.ncpc.gov/DocumentDepot/Publications/RFKStadiumStudy.pdf

by MadRabbitScientist on Jul 16, 2010 10:38 am • linkreport

I'd happily echo calls to raze the Forrestal building. DOE has done all they can to upgrade it, but the thing is poorly designed and is falling apart inside. GSA should move DOE temporarily, raze the thing, and move them back into better, LEED certified space on the site.

(the captcha was "for soaking", which is appropriate given the problems with the AC system leaking all over inside Forrestal these days)

by Moose on Jul 16, 2010 10:49 am • linkreport

The Forrestal is also a huge waste of land, with the large setbacks from the street and the space below the building empty. This should be much better utilized since it's between two metro stations.

by Ben on Jul 16, 2010 10:59 am • linkreport

what is the criteria for getting space on the Mall? the Armenian Holocaust victims didn't get to put their museum there, for instance. Is the "American Latino" that central to the American experience that deserves a place on the Mall? There's plenty of other places.

by andy on Jul 16, 2010 11:01 am • linkreport

I'm curious & wanted to throw out a more out of the box idea... what if, over the long-term, Potomac Park was retooled as a more touristed extension of the Mall?

I'd wager there'd be stiff resistance to losing the recreational facilities (particularly the golf course) and it'd probably need at least one or two major transit stops west of the tidal basin and eastward near the golf course... but it'd also open up a lot more land all within the same general proximity of the Mall.

...And maybe more people would actually visit Jefferson when there aren't cherry blossoms or fireworks to see.

...And I'd get a place for my Italian-American, Swiss-American, German-American, Irish-American, etc. museums; in addition to all the non-ethnic ones mentioned above. The Native Americans I can understand, but for everyone else I'd sooner see a more collective Museum of American Cultural History or something like that (unless we already have one of those).

by Bossi on Jul 16, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

"GSA should move DOE temporarily, raze the thing, and move them back into better, LEED certified space on the site. "

Yes, raze a building that uses 40% less energy than an average office building to construct a new LEED certified one, because destroying a building and creating a new one doesn't use any energy or waste building material at all.

It's not a terrific building, but there are at least a dozen uglier office buildings in downtown Northwest. You just don't notice them, because they are surrounded by so much mediocrity.

by wdcab on Jul 16, 2010 11:13 am • linkreport

@MadRabbitScientist

Whatever happened to the NCPC plan to turn RFK and surrounded acres of parking into a kind of extension of the mall, with monuments, museums, etc? That would solve this problem, and get rid of those surface lots.

RFK, of course, is still in use. I was just there last night, in fact.

I'm sure DC United would gladly vacate the site if NCPC and the Museum folks wanted to build them a new stadium, however.

by Alex B. on Jul 16, 2010 11:17 am • linkreport

@Alex B.
So the city is beholden to a soccer team? (a mediocre team playing a less-than-popular sport at that)
Let them build their own stadium.

by Nick on Jul 16, 2010 11:26 am • linkreport

@Nick

The team wants a new stadium, they are certainly pursuing every available opportunity to get one. There's a big difference between doing that and actively kicking a team out of their current home, however.

My point was that RFK as it currently stands is still in use - the same kind of issue with a couple of the proposed Mall sites for this museum.

by Alex B. on Jul 16, 2010 11:37 am • linkreport

wdcab, I agree. The building is not fantastic, but not horrible either. I have gone past it at night and the lighting is interesting and beautiful. The space underneath it could be put to use in interesting ways. Outdoor nightclub? Shady outdoor dining in summer? Unfortunately the security burdens of a government building would rule that out, so no matter what might get built in its place, theres always the problem that a lot of government buildings will never be very activate places because by definition then separate themselves.

by spookiness on Jul 16, 2010 11:42 am • linkreport

I agree with Philip Kennicott's critique of the monumental core, but I doubt his solution. I avoid the area as much as I can, particularly since 9/11 (it's been nearly nine years and all the stuff that was thrown up in the immediate panic is still there or has been made permanent). It's not just the Mall. Unbuilding parts of the Mall, reparking parts of it, won't help unless the surroundings are reconceived.

by jim on Jul 16, 2010 11:49 am • linkreport

If we need more space on the mall why not get rid of the part of the Whitten building north of Independence Ave.? I know that's probably not possible but it seems silly for the USDA to be sitting on land in the mall area like that.

by Steve on Jul 16, 2010 12:09 pm • linkreport

I agree with jim and Phil Kennicott.

Phil's note about the NCPC meeting with the NPS definitely struck a chord with me, given my interpretation of the master plan that the NPS released yesterday. The NPS report dismisses the McMillan plan, while completely failing to provide any vision of its own. If we can't imagine a grand and cohesive vision for the mall, what does that say about us as a country?

On the subject of permanence, I'd hesitate to permanently include a Latin American museum on the mall (wouldn't this be more appropriate as an extension of the Museum of American history?). Irish and Italian-Americans were once underrepresented minorities, and the concept of a museum on the mall dedicated to either of those groups would be ridiculous to consider today.

Also, I'll echo the request for a museum of American Science and Technology. I'd love to see the museum of Health & Medicine moved back onto the mall, and possibly integrated into this hypothetical institution (along with Air & Space, and a few exhibits currently existing at the American History museum, I suppose).

I'm also a bit surprised that nobody has ever proposed an American equivalent of London's excellent Imperial War Museum.

by andrew on Jul 16, 2010 12:33 pm • linkreport

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitors center was more troubling because it opened the door to visitors' centers for veterans of every war.

I'm hoping this was a joke by the author (although it seems odd to end a relatively serious piece with such irony). I have to agree that we can expect a lot more wars (unfortunately), but if you see the cost of honoring the people who are sacrificed and die in them as some kind of "clutter" then perhaps your priorities are screwed up.

by David desJardins on Jul 16, 2010 12:33 pm • linkreport

I, too, would love to see a National Museum of Science and Industry - but it's worth noting that many of those roles are covered by other museums, and that the American History Museum's original name was the National Museum of History and Technology.

by Alex B. on Jul 16, 2010 12:36 pm • linkreport

How about a Museum of the American Immigrant to cover all immigrant and ethnic groups? You could have a permanent exhibit that covers the history of immigration into the US, starting with the establishment of colonies through today, and highlight issues and controversies of every era. Maybe a room that has the feel of Ellis Island (the symbol of American immigration). It wouldn't really highlight every single group's culture, but if you try to do that, we're gonna need a vastly larger city.

by Ian Swank on Jul 16, 2010 12:44 pm • linkreport

How about the hyphenated museum?

by MPC on Jul 16, 2010 2:44 pm • linkreport

I'd add a voice to the call for a science museum. There's nothing within hundreds of miles that really like the amazing San Francisco Exploratorium rather than a building of artifacts and a few interactive exhibits.

There's an attempt to build a museum in northern VA, but I have no clue if it will be better than existing stuff.
http://www.thechildrenssciencecenter.org/

by Dan on Jul 16, 2010 2:49 pm • linkreport

The more important question is, "where will the transit museum go? We need one of those.

by Matt Johnson on Jul 16, 2010 2:57 pm • linkreport

Why don't we expand the American Museum of History to include all ethnic groups. After all isn't that what American History is really all about, lots of different ethnic groups combining into one country. Someone should put a stop to the African American Museum before they break ground. Once there is an african american museum, an hispanic museum, why shouldn't there be a separate museum for the 20+ other ethnic groups. It shouldn't be about who has the most pull in washington, but sadly that is what this is coming down to.

by John on Jul 16, 2010 3:00 pm • linkreport

@David desJardins:

I think he was making a distinction between the memorials and the visitors' centers. There's honoring with a memorial and then there's just extraneous stuff. What purpose does a visitors' center for that site serve?

by MLD on Jul 16, 2010 3:14 pm • linkreport

I think he was making a distinction between the memorials and the visitors' centers.

Unfortunately not. The very next sentence begins, "I'm less disturbed by more cultural museums on the Mall than memorials," and he goes on to complain about memorials "cluttering up the Mall".

by David desJardins on Jul 16, 2010 3:17 pm • linkreport

I don't think that the museum should be on the existing Mall, but I'm sure that politics will put it there in ther end. The current Mall is already basically built out, and pressure to create more hyphenated-American museums in the future will overwhelm it. This is why the proposal of the Coalition to Save Our National Mall, to extend the Mall on a north-south axis makes a lot of sense. It would free up space for more museums and memorials, to permit other groups to get "their" space.

When worthy sites close to the Mall were proposed for the African-American Museum, they were rejected by the museum's sponsors who used charged rhetoric to demand a place on America's "front yard" instead of being "slighted" to the "back yard." Now, the sponsors of the Hispanic Museuam want equal treatment. And where will it lead? (Why is there the need to present the experience of particular groups separately rather than told as part of the broader American experience, by the American History and other Smithsonian museums?) Still other groups will feel that they "deserve" their place on the Mall. I'll bet that an Asian American Museum proposal is already in the works, and there will probably be others. A National LGBT museum on the Mall someday, anyone?

by JNS on Jul 16, 2010 3:44 pm • linkreport

I'll bet that an Asian American Museum proposal is already in the works, and there will probably be others. A National LGBT museum on the Mall someday, anyone?

Actually, those sound like great ideas to me. I don't understand why you find them threatening or undesirable. This seems like the worst kind of historical "preservation", somehow people think that what is old is always better than what is new.

What the hell does it mean to "overwhelm" the Mall? This sounds to me a lot like suburban residents who don't want to "overwhelm" their communities with mixed-use, transit-oriented development, city centers, etc.

by David desJardins on Jul 16, 2010 3:48 pm • linkreport

@John

I agree... All the years of strife spent on equality, de-segregation and inclusiveness all come down to seperation of groups. Politics is at the core of this.

It's a mistake to make museums that seperate Americans by race.

K

by Kaleel on Jul 16, 2010 3:52 pm • linkreport

"If we need more space on the mall why not get rid of the part of the Whitten building north of Independence Ave.?" (BTW, how do you do italics?)

I've wondered this for years. I didn't know how old this building was until I just checked, but I don't think that it's architecturally significant. I've always wondered why this one agency should have a Mall space that should be a museum when no others do. I'm also assuming that this whole complex is 95% dormant on weekends, which is not good for a Mall site.

Although this site is probably to big for a Latino Museum, it would be a good site for a science/industry/technology museum that has been previously mentioned.

Of course, the problem is where to put all the employees that would displace. It takes alot of people to hand out billions to ADM, Cargill, Purina, etc.

by kinverson on Jul 16, 2010 3:58 pm • linkreport

New Mexico Avenue...where else?

by Redline SOS on Jul 16, 2010 4:13 pm • linkreport

What is needed it the courage to locate future memorials and museums off the mall - the RFK area 'extension' was a good idea along these lines, but until a substantial project or two are placed there, many sponsors will feel they are being shunted to the 'back yard'. This has happened before - there was outrage over the site choice for the Lincoln Memorial. That is one reason I was hoping that the WWII Memorial would not be built on the Mall; they could have been the cornerstone of a whole new area (and had room for a visitor's center, too.)

Concerning other group-oriented museums, there is already a National Women's History Museum in the works, though their site in slightly off the Mall, on 12th ST SW next to the Forrestal Building. [www.nwhm.org] (Though they too discussed the parking lot at the Whitten Building.) At the very least, this kind of Mall-adjacent location should be encouraged. (See also the Eisenhower Memorial.)

As for the Whitten Building itself, because its oldest sections predate the other Mall museums (except the Castle and the A&I Building) and since it is the historic home of a very large and important cabinet department (the only department actually on the Mall), it would surprise me if it could be shifted to any other use. (The role of USDA in the growth & uses of the Mall is interesting.)

by ZZinDC on Jul 16, 2010 4:48 pm • linkreport

We should just make an immigration museum and a museum about american culture

by g on Jul 16, 2010 4:54 pm • linkreport

Why the heck is there going to be a Latino museeum on the mall?? Sure the Indians were here first, so I understand that. Buy why latinos and not italians, irish, asians? This is bogus.

by beatbox on Jul 16, 2010 5:11 pm • linkreport

I can understand both having a dedicated latino museum and having just a catch-all american culture museum, is there some sort of latino american museum out west in one of the border states that definitely has a lot more of a latino influence than here on the east coast? Maybe an immigrant experience with a special wing that is connected with a museum out west that is dedicated to the latino experience which basically would outline a entirely different experience of colonialism than what we traditionally understand in US history.

by Canaan on Jul 16, 2010 5:51 pm • linkreport

It would be a grand statement if the museum was built on South Capitol St. across from the baseball stadium. Then the museum and the stadium will be the anchors for the proposed redevelopment of South Capitol and allow the mall to be redirected south to the Anacostia. This will also open up spaces for the proposed Asian American Museum and the group trying to find a location for the Woman's History Museum.

For those that may be against all of these museums, I'll remind you of the fact that the Smithsonian collection is so large that only 8% is ever on display (pre-2000 numbers though, probably more like 12% now). With 16 current facilities and the opportunity for more, there should be nothing wrong with allowing more of that wonderful conglomeration of knowledge to be shared.

by Keith Shovlin on Jul 16, 2010 6:23 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson-

Agreed! I've seen some spectacular transportation museums abroad... it'd be great to have something to fill in the void of land & sea transport here (at least we're quite well covered for air)

@kinverson-
To add italics, use < i > to start it and < /i > to end it (without any spaces in between).

@Canaan-
Latin influences have definitely be a major trend among our generation, but there have been plenty of diasporas throughout the course of America's history which have send floods of immigrants from a variety of countries, all of which have had some major influences on American culture. I'd hate to see attention given only to what's popular now, disregarding all that's come before. Hence much of the concern with going down this path at all... the question of "when does it stop; where does it end?" is certainly a valid one.

by Bossi on Jul 16, 2010 6:32 pm • linkreport

@Bossi,
I certainly agree, I guess I'm trying to come up with some sort of compromise especially considering that most of the western part of the country was essentially Latino before it was American. I wonder how important this discussion will be 50 years from now when most things we consider to be unique to the hispanic experience will simply be part of the american mainstream. 75 years ago they could have just as efficiently argued for the inclusion of an italian-american museum.

by Canaan on Jul 16, 2010 6:59 pm • linkreport

I wonder how important this discussion will be 50 years from now when most things we consider to be unique to the hispanic experience will simply be part of the american mainstream.

Wow. Would you care to bet?

http://www.longbets.org/

I think Irish immigration to the US peaked over 150 years ago (as a fraction of all immigrants, or as a fraction of US population), while Hispanic immigration to the US is still increasing. Maybe if you said "150 years" rather than "50 years" I could buy it.

by David desJardins on Jul 16, 2010 7:08 pm • linkreport

"Why the heck is there going to be a Latino museeum [sic] on the mall?? Sure the Indians were here first, so I understand that."

In at least five American states, including several of the largest and most important, Latinos were also here first. (CA, TX, FL, AZ, NM). The more you know.

I don't think this museum is a bad idea, but I do think this is the appropriate place to draw the line in terms of American minorities represented on the Mall. I don't see that Asian-Americans, for instance, are as integral to the story of the founding, settlement and organization of the United States as Native Americans, Latinos, and African Americans.

Once you open the door to mid-late 19th Century minority groups, you get Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Asian-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans, etc. and museums become ethnic boosterism rather than coherent history. And I say that as a representative of some of those groups.

by theo on Jul 16, 2010 7:12 pm • linkreport

I don't see that Asian-Americans, for instance, are as integral to the story of the founding, settlement and organization of the United States as Native Americans, Latinos, and African Americans.

Do you live on the east coast? It sure doesn't seem that way in California.

by David desJardins on Jul 16, 2010 7:14 pm • linkreport

@theo-

I'm pretty sure the Native Americans preceded the Spanish, too :) Though if you meant the locals that were in place prior to the Spanish, I'd personally think that they could be included with the Native American grouping. Though with the way ethnic & racial grouping go, I'm sure there's probably a camp out there which would disagree with me.

RE: David desJardins's comment-

Agreed- the Chinese, in particular, have contributed quite a bit to the history of pretty much everything west of the Rockies.

by Bossi on Jul 16, 2010 7:27 pm • linkreport

@Daviddesjardins
The number I picked was kind of moot,at some point in the future what we consider as distinct hispanic culture will be integrated with mainstream american culture just as every other ethnic group has eventually melted into the american norm (disclaimer, I realize there are still several unique differences across all cultures and I'm not talking about homogenization, st. patricks day is still celebrated and whatnot but I think the issues should be more framed about the effects on the immigrant experience in the US and about colonialism and imperialism the world abroad.)

by Canaan on Jul 16, 2010 8:07 pm • linkreport

What would happen to the current tenants of these buildings? Would we be looking at a Northrop Grumman-like move to rural Va? Two of these are part of USDA, including the historic Yates building, home to the owners of close to 200 million acres of land, the forest service

by ARM on Jul 16, 2010 8:18 pm • linkreport

at some point in the future what we consider as distinct hispanic culture will be integrated with mainstream american culture just as every other ethnic group has eventually melted into the american norm

This remains to be seen, you certainly can't say that it's true of African Americans or Chinese Americans and those groups have both been part of the US population for a very long time. Even if it were true in 150 years, that would be a LOT different than if it's true in 50 years. If the museum is obsolete in 150 years, so will much of the rest of the Smithsonian, so what? I don't even think human civilization will survive another 150 years, although that's a separate issue. It certainly seems beyond the reasonable scope of planning for the shape of the Mall.

by David desJardins on Jul 16, 2010 8:28 pm • linkreport

Bossi -- no, I mean the Latinos who settled in California, Texas and the SW from 1700-1750 to 1850 -- mixing with and displacing the Native populations, and founding most of California's cities. That's a period almost as long as the post-statehood history of those areas.

There weren't more than a few Chinese-Americans in the US until the 1848 gold rush (and then, only in California), and there weren't any Japanese-Americans until much later (and then, only in CA, OR & WA).

There should certainly be an Asian American history museum -- in Sacramento. And a Hawaiian-American history museum -- in Honolulu. And a Scandinavian-American museum -- in Minneapolis. Not on the Mall.

by theo on Jul 18, 2010 1:55 pm • linkreport

There should certainly be an Asian American history museum -- in Sacramento. And a Hawaiian-American history museum -- in Honolulu. And a Scandinavian-American museum -- in Minneapolis. Not on the Mall.

Washington, DC, is the Nation's capital, not the East Coast capital. The Smithsonian is the National museum, not the East coast museum. What sense does it make to exclude from the history of our country those things that happened in parts that you consider too peripheral?

You can see something very clearly in the comments here. There are some people who claim to be concerned with the "character" or "integrity" of the Mall, and claim only to be concerned with the placement of certain museums, but not to have any desire to marginalize or denigrate them. There are other people, though, who admit to opposing the very idea of the museums. It feels much like any other form of NIMBYism. There are people who claim that they aren't against development, or public facilities, or transit infrastructure, it is only that their neighborhood isn't the right place for them. But they are always standing right beside people who clearly oppose the whole idea of development, or public facilities, or transit infrastructure. It ends up making one suspicious of the motives of the former group.

by David desJardins on Jul 18, 2010 2:20 pm • linkreport

"I've wondered this for years. I didn't know how old this building was until I just checked, but I don't think that it's architecturally significant. I've always wondered why this one agency should have a Mall space that should be a museum when no others do. I'm also assuming that this whole complex is 95% dormant on weekends, which is not good for a Mall site.

Although this site is probably to big for a Latino Museum, it would be a good site for a science/industry/technology museum that has been previously mentioned.

Of course, the problem is where to put all the employees that would displace. It takes alot of people to hand out billions to ADM, Cargill, Purina, etc."

I'm not too worried about the employees. There are lots of places they could be put. There is simply no reason for the Whitten building to be where it is. It takes up valuable mall space that could be used for a museum, any museum.

I'm torn about this Latino museum. I can see both sides of the argument. Regardless if we know we're going to need more mall space then this is the place to start. Let's get rid of the Whitten building. The USDA will still have the South building and the Yates building (although I think the Yates building should be used for something other than offices.)

by Steve on Jul 18, 2010 5:42 pm • linkreport

The Whitten Building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can make the case that the building should be re-purposed for something other than USDA offices, but the structure itself isn't going anywhere.

by Alex B. on Jul 18, 2010 5:55 pm • linkreport

"The Whitten Building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
You can make the case that the building should be re-purposed for something other than USDA offices, but the structure itself isn't going anywhere."

All right. So what do we do? We have and will have more and more groups clamoring for their museum on the mall. I'm not speaking to the merits or demerits of any particular proposed museum but some will past muster for whatever reason. The propoents will not be happy unless they have space on the mall. Any good idea to free up some space such as doing something about the Whitten building has a problem that prevents the solution. How do we get out of this impasse?

by Steve on Jul 18, 2010 10:42 pm • linkreport

In response to David desJardins's last comment:

I absolutely support having more museums -- I love visiting them & they certainly help make our nation's Capital more of a destination for tourists; not just politics & business.

However, I do have to question the process of who & what get them. A museum to Native Americans I'm OK with, since they precede the rest of the population... it's the museums to every other culture which I have some issue with.

I'm not explicitly against such museums; I just question where or when do we stop... and as was mentioned before, that's only touching upon races & ethnicity; what about the myriad of other groups among other genres & classifications.

Over the course of the future, it'll be difficult to draw a line without alienating groups whom may have just as much claim as any other, except that their claims may have perhaps faded from the limelight.

And for all new museums, it'd also be a question of where to put them whilst maintaining current vistas (or perhaps creating new ones).

by Bossi on Jul 18, 2010 11:38 pm • linkreport

How about in Mexico?

by Joe White III on Jul 19, 2010 10:10 am • linkreport

please visit www.irishamericanmuseumdc.org

by irish american museum on Oct 31, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

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Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

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