The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture was launched on the Web (www.nmaahc.si.edu) on 26 September—eight years before the museum’s physical doors are scheduled to open. The website relies on the same sorts of technology used by millions on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.
Museum’s first director Lonnie Bunch said he is taking that approach to make the museum part of people’s lives now, even before an architect is selected to design the building. It will be the 19th museum in the Smithsonian’s collection and some people have expressed frustration that it has taken so long to build a national museum focused on exploring African American history and culture. “The dream to build it really had started and stopped and stalled,” Bunch said. “A lot of people really questioned ‘Is this going to happen?’ This is one of the ways we can make it real.” IBM, which designed the site, said it is the first time a major museum has opened up for business on the Web before opening its doors to the public. REUTERS