African American Museum Acquires Large Prison Tower Before Being Built

African American Museum Acquires Large Prison Tower Before Being Built

Museums are donated many kinds of things, but this one is a bit unusual. The new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington will receive a 20-foot-tall prison guard tower from the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, for its collection.

On Monday the tower will be taken apart and transported to a holding facility in Kentucky while the museum is under construction. The museum, which is slated to open officially December 2015, will receive other donations before opening, like a Jim Crow segregated railroad car. This will all occur before the roof is even built.

Angola was erected on a 19th-century plantation and currently is home to more than 5,000 men, most African-American and serving life sentences without parole. Spencer Crew, a guest curator at the NMAAHC, explained that the tower will be used to start dialogue around race: “The idea is to use it as an object to help talk about the ongoing prison camps and war camps and incarceration some years after slavery,” said Crew.

[via NYTimes]

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