I blogged previously about the new Civil War museum in Richmond. It seems to have officially opened now, and the NYTimes has some reflections on it. I’m fascinated by museum design in general, and designing one in the current fraught historical climate is of particular interest.
The new American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Va., sits next to the James River in the historic Tredegar district, where slaves and immigrants once produced munitions for the Confederate Army. The product of a merger of the American Civil War Center and the Museum of the Confederacy, the new museum seeks to tell an inclusive story of the war in hopes of dispelling some of the myths and misconceptions that still dominate popular understanding.
“This is a period of history that’s been so distorted for a variety of reasons,” the museum’s chief executive, Christy Coleman, told me, “where memory has taken over the actual history, and that collective memory is not historical in many cases.”
Modern scholarship on the American Civil War takes a broad view of the conflict, more interested in social, economic and political circumstances than battlefield tactics; more concerned with the perspectives of ordinary people — soldiers, civilians, Native Americans and enslaved people — than individual military leaders.