In Curating America’s Painful Past, Gruenewald poses an important thought experiment in the book’s conclusion: “Imagine a national memorial dedicated to the memory of America’s painful past on the National Mall (195).” The book presents a convincing argument that the four museums already on the mall—the National Museum of American History (nmah), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (ushm), the National Museum of African American History and Culture (nmaah), and the National Museum of the American Indian (mnai)—are inadequate to the task. Gruenewald analyzes the museums’ location, exhibits, films, and administrative histories specifically to provide insights into how each site misses opportunities to communicate how the “systematic crimes against humanity over centuries on US soil were not remembered in the National Mall (3).” His timely critique of the National Mall certainly fits within the purview of memory studies and public history...

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