07 30 2016
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The Wake of Vanport

The Smithsonian's board of regents has selected the location for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The regents selected the area known as the "Monument site," bounded by Constitution Avenue, Madison Drive, and 14th and 15th streets N.W. The site is adjacent to the Washington Monument and across the street from the NationalMuseumof American History.

The site was selected from among four choices included in legislation signed into law by President George Bush on Dec. 16, 2003. The other sites the Regents were asked to consider were:

• The Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian Institution, on the National Mall at 900 Jefferson Drive S.W.;

• The site known as the Liberty Loan site, on 14th Street S.W. at the foot of the 14th Street Bridge; and

• The site known as the Banneker Overlook site, on 10th Street S.W. at the foot of the L'Enfant Plaza promenade.

"The regents have chosen an ideal site on the National Mall for the Smithsonian's 19th museum, the National MuseumofAfrican American History and Culture," said Lawrence M. Small, secretary of the Smithsonian.

Smallsaidthe Smithsonian would work with the various planning commissions, including the National Capital Planning Commission, the Advisory CouncilonHistoric Preservationandthe Commission of Fine Arts, to build the museum.

He said he hoped the museumwould"inspire generations of future visitors from around the world with truly American stories of perseverance, courage, talent and triumph…."

To help guide its decision, the board of regents commissioned an engineering study to examine the four locations. The site evaluation study, conducted by PlexusScientific Corporationand PageSoutherlandPage, examined each site, analyzing location; size; site historyandrelationshipto African American history; vehicular and pedestrian traffic; issues concerning the existing structure itself, where applicable (Arts and Industries Building); availability of utilities; environmental factors (such as soil, topography and existing landscape); availability of public transportation and parking; surrounding attractions and entertainment; archeological significance; noise levels; and ease of providing security for visitors, staff and collections.

In addition to the engineering study, the regents consulted with a variety of groups, including members of Congress; the museum's Council;theNational CapitalPlanning Commission;the Commission of Fine Arts; the National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission and federal agencies, as well as the District of Columbia mayor and the public.

The regents visited each site and received public commentsviathe Smithsonian's Web site and a November 2005 town hall meeting as part of their efforts to conduct a comprehensiveandobjective review of the locations.

This 17-member board, which meets four times a year, includes Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Vice President Cheney, both ex officio voting members of the board. The chief justice is the chancellor of the Institution.
Other members of the board of regents are three members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the speaker of the House; three members of the Senate, appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate; and nine citizen members, nominated by the board and approved by the Congress in a joint resolution signed by the president of the United States. Regents who are representatives and senators serve for the durations of their elected terms. Citizen regents serve six-year terms.

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