“City of Good Intentions”: I review a local history show

“City of Good Intentions”: I review a local history show July 7, 2016

at the Anacostia Museum:

Sometimes it seems like the nation’s capital is really two cities: dateline Washington and hometown DC. The current show at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, “Twelve Years that Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963 – 1975,” is an attempt to bridge the gap–or at least to give official Washington’s view of unofficial DC.

The show is one of those “social history” grab-bags: a display about public colleges here, a selection of dashikis there. We get morsels of a lot of things but few full dishes. Why isn’t there any video in the section on black dance and theater? Why not let us hear some go-go, the native form of funk born toward the tail end of the show’s timeline? Why are all the photos printed onto deeply-colored backgrounds, making them blurry and inartistic?

But as you move through the meandering exhibit, a few arguments do emerge.

The timeline is itself an argument.

more (note to visitors: If you go on the weekday by metro you have to hike up a big old hill. If you go on the weekend there’s a free shuttle. I stopped at a rec center right before I reached the museum to ask directions–it’s also not super easy to find the first time–and I was bright red and sweating. Like a human Coke can.)


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