SCL Picks: Call the Lost Dream Back (Essays on History, Race and Museums)

TGIF!  This week, the Stone Center Library recommends: Call The Lost Dream Back: Essays on History, Race and Museums (2010), written by Lonnie G. Bunch III and published by The AAM (American Association of Museums) Press.

“Lonnie G. Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, is one of the museum profession’s leading writers and thinkers.  In this collection of his work from the mid-1980s to the present, including new chapters written for this book, Bunch presents a personal and passionate view of American history, ‘the Gordian knot’ of race relations, and the role of the museum in shaping the perspective of a nation.”

Essays include:

  • “Embracing Ambiguity: the Challenge of Interpreting African American History in Museums” (2005)
  • “Flies in the Buttermilk: Museums, Diversity, and the Will to Change” (2000)
  • “Curating the Recent Past: the Woolworth Lunch Counter, Greensboro, North Carolina” (1996)
  • “Embracing controversy: Museum Exhibitions and the Politics of Change” (1992)

All in all, this is an excellent collection for anyone interested in museum studies, the politics of representation, issues of collective memory, and the African American experience.  But don’t just take our word for it, here’s a sampling of what other reviewers have said….

“Lonnie Bunch is a national treasure. His collection of essays with the evocative title addresses a range of personal and professional issues dealing with history, race and the purpose of museums. Not only is the author an astute interpreter of episodes in our own nation’s history, but he is also an international traveler who takes the reader to Ghana, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and even the River Jordan. Bunch combines a lively and engaging writing style with a scholar’s sensibility to produce a must-read volume.” 
–Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States (2004-2008), visiting professor, University of Maryland

 “Call the Lost Dream Back is a powerful, thought-provoking journey through the life and professional career of a leading public historian. Lonnie Bunch’s essays are poignantly written and compel the reader to think in new and important ways about the power and possibilities of museums and history. The author reminds us of the importance of an open mind, sensitive observation, and the ability to embrace change for the continued evolution of both individuals and societies.” 
–Spencer R. Crew, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American, African American and Public History, George Mason University

 “Lonnie Bunch’s moving experiences are told personally, yet convey universal values and lessons. As the founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum for over 20 years, I believe that Call the Lost Dream Back captures the essence and importance of culturally-specific institutions. Its insights are a must-read for every museum professional and for all who are committed to a more inclusive America.” 
–Irene Hirano Inouye

Interested in learning more?  Check out the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture website.  You can also find more of Dr. Bunch’s writings online, such as this recent essay on museums and race.  Happy reading!

Summary and reviews from: The ALA Store.

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