“‘I like this museum. It’s good to feel you’re part of something. A lot of times I go into different museums and enjoy the items on display but there’s an empty feeling. This place gives you a chance to feel history.’” 
This quote from From Storefront to Monument: Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement, by Andrea Burns, really resonated with me. A visitor of the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum wrote this for the suggestion box. While not a suggestion it is a statement of feeling included and valued in direct opposition perhaps to the national museums within the heart of Washington, D.C., which are large imposing buildings of white marble. By “empty feeling” I wonder if the visitor is talking about a lack of connection to what is displayed within the different museums he/she has visited previously. If a visitor does not feel like they are wanted or represented within a museum why would they keep going and if a museum doesn’t see a population represented in the visitation how likely is it that they will work to engage with an underrepresented visitation group?
From Storefront to Monument examines the emergence and history of the African American museum movement in the 1960s. Burns looks at four specific museums: the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, the International Afro-American Museum of Detroit, and the African American Museum of Philadelphia. In reading about the creation and difficulties faced by each institution I was continually reminded of the importance of space and place. It can be difficult to get visitors to museums if they don’t feel like they belong and like they aren’t the audience for the exhibits at the museum and in the 1960s it was especially difficult to create space for African American specific museums.
Reading about the African American Museum of Philadelphia underscored the difficulty of finding the space for a community-focused museum. Originally the museum was to be in the Society Hill neighborhood. But with increased redevelopment and gentrification the historically African American space become to expensive and established residents became priced out. A battle between the museum and the newly established Society Hill Civic Association ensued and at the end the African American Museum of Philadelphia decided to change its location to the edge of Philadelphia’s Chinatown neighborhood, which was “ isolated from the areas in which more of Philadelphia’s African Americans lived and worked.”  This change in location took the museum away from the historic place of it’s community, which changed how the museum was preserved by those it was created to serve. Space and place are incredibly important to organizations and to the communities that build and use the organizations. This is even truer when looking at historically underrepresented communities.
 Andrea A. Burn, From Storefront to Monument: Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement (Boston, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), 97.
 Burns, From Storefront to Monument, 71.