Contributed by Sam Eskenazi, Director, Coalition for the National Museum of the American People
While genealogy focuses on our individual family ancestors, in the United States we are also part of larger ethnic and cultural groups: Irish Americans, German Americans, African Americans, Scottish Americans and on and on. And some of our family lines might cut through a variety of these groups.
The National Museum of the American People being proposed for Washington, DC would tell the stories of all of the groups that came to this land and nation, from the first human beings in the Western Hemisphere through today. It would tell who they were, where they came from, when they left, why they left, how they got here, where they arrived, what they encountered, where they might have moved, and how they transformed our nation.
The story would be told in the manner of walking through a documentary of the making of the American People in four chapters: 1. The First Peoples Come (prehistoric period – 1607); 2. The Nation Takes Form (1607 – 1820); 3. The Great In-Gathering (1820-1924); 4. And Still They Come (1924 – present).
The theme of the museum would be the embodiment of our nation’s original national motto: E Pluribus Unum – From Many We Are One!
Besides the permanent exhibition at the heart of the museum, there could also be a variety of components including a National Genealogical Center, possibly with relationships with major existing data bases such as those operated by the National Archives, the Family Search Center based in Salt Lake City, and Ancestry.Com. Other components could include a film center, a Center for the Advanced Studies of the American People, an educational resource center, and other amenities found in major museums.
The National Museum of the American People would be the nation’s only national institution devoted exclusively to telling the full story of the making of the American People. It is a compelling story and we believe that all Americans will want to come to better understand their own story and at the same time they will learn about all of the other stories. Foreign visitors will want to learn how people from their countries to help make the United States the world’s economic, military, scientific and cultural leader.
It’s interesting that both Canada and Mexico have major museums in their capitals that both tell the stories of their people starting from the prehistoric period. In both cases, they are the most visited museums in those nations.
The Coalition for the National Museum of the American People consists of 153 organizations representing more than 60 ethnic, cultural and genealogy-based groups. The Coalition now has a resolution in Congress, House Congressional Resolution 63, which calls for a bipartisan commission to study establishment of the museum. The resolution has bipartisan support with 31 cosponsors. If all goes well, the museum could open in 2019 or 2020.
More information about this project is at www.nmap2015.com.