Talk:National Museum of African Art

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Good article National Museum of African Art has been listed as one of the Art and architecture good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
July 23, 2017 Good article nominee Listed
Did You Know
A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on May 26, 2012.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ... that the collection at the National Museum of African Art is the largest publicly held African art collection in the United States?

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I am a fellow (Wikipedia visiting scholar) with the museum. While I'm mostly working on contemporary African art in our collaboration, I thought I'd clean this one up too, given its sorry state. Apart from some bibliographic help, the museum has no involvement in my editing process—they don't control my editorial choices and the work is unpaid—but I did want to declare the potential conflict of interest. I've written dozens of Wikipedian-vetted articles and am familiar with the guidelines, so neutrality won't be an issue, but if you have an issue with any of my edits, just let me know here (with a {{ping}}) and we can discuss/rephrase. czar 07:49, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

Source dump[edit]

Dropping some sources here that can provide extra detail (if needed) but are outside the article's scope for a general audience:

czar 17:11, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:National Museum of African Art/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: KJP1 (talk · contribs) 18:35, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

Pleased to pick this up and sorry for the lengthy wait. I'll complete the review within the next four days, sooner if possible. If there's anything you want to discuss, just raise it here. KJP1 (talk) 18:35, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

Done with the review now, and have put the article On Hold, while the main editor considers the comments/suggestions. KJP1 (talk) 11:32, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
And now all done. Pleased to Pass. KJP1 (talk) 22:12, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Quick fail criteria assessment[edit]

  1. The article completely lacks reliable sources – see Wikipedia:Verifiability.
  2. The topic is treated in an obviously non-neutral way – see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view.
  3. There are cleanup banners that are obviously still valid, including cleanup, wikify, NPOV, unreferenced or large numbers of fact, clarifyme, or similar tags.
  4. The article is or has been the subject of ongoing or recent, unresolved edit wars.
  5. The article specifically concerns a rapidly unfolding current event with a definite endpoint.

All good. Main review to follow. KJP1 (talk) 18:35, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

Main review[edit]

1. It is reasonably well written.

a (prose):
The prose standard is high and I will Pass on this criterion, subject to review of the suggestions below.
  • "located on the National Mall of the United States capital." - wouldn't it be clearer just to say "located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C."?
More precise perhaps, but for those unfamiliar, I think it's more important to note that the National Mall is in the capital than that the capital is Washington, D.C.
  • " by a Foreign Service officer and layman who.." - not sure why you don't just introduce Warren in the lede, and not sure what "layman" adds, certainly not his part-profession! Perhaps, " by Warren M. Robbins, a Foreign Service officer who..."
The name doesn't come up again in the lede, and I don't like to introduce characters if the name is unimportant to the paragraph. "layman" was supposed to denote that African Art was his hobby and that he considered himself an enthusiast (no museum/arts background)—I think those parts are even more important to the museum's founding than his name!
  • "an educational mission towards black cultural heritage" - "towards" doesn't seem clear to me, perhaps, "an educational mission to encourage understanding and appreciation of black cultural heritage"?
  • "the founder lobbied Congress" - suggest "Robbins lobbied Congress" as per above. And I'd probably blue link Congress on first mention.
  • "A new, mostly underground, museum building was completed in 1987, just off the National Mall..." - suggest two commas.
Split the difference and added one ("mostly underground" shouldn't be a parenthetical)
  • "ranged from solo artist to broad, survey shows." - suggest "ranged from solo artists to broad, survey shows."
"solo artist" is short for "solo artist shows", so "solo artist shows" and "broad, survey shows", drop the first, redundant "shows"
  • "The museum is slated to be remodelled" - "slated" has a different meaning in British English, suggest "The museum is scheduled to be remodelled.." may be clearer for non-US readers.
  • "could advance interracial civil rights by improving how white people's understanding of African culture" - this has got a bit muddled. Not sure it was designed to advance interracial "civil rights"; suggest something like, "interracial understanding". And the "how" appears to be a hangover from an earlier wording; suggest something like, ""by improving white people's knowledge and appreciation of African culture".
  • "its educational mission towards black cultural heritage" - "its educational mission regarding black cultural heritage"?
  • "a friendly meeting place" - is the "friendly" necessary?
I wanted to distinguish between it being a public library's rented meeting room and a warmer community space where familiar people meet
  • "in-keeping with the 1960s and '70s Black Arts Movement" - is the hyphen required? I don't think it is in Brit English.
  • "high-cost, high-reward pieces" - not sure I know what these would be. I could guess it's something like "expensive, with the wow factor", but is it possible to be a bit clearer?
  • "the institution's public role was neglected for "esoteric scholarship"" - suggest "the institution's public role was being neglected for "esoteric scholarship"".
  • "wrote that the museum's obstacles" - would "challenges" be better than "obstacles"?
  • "Visitor counts" - in Brit English this would be "Visitor numbers" but ignore if it's standard US English.
  • "in the mid-2000s was on par" - suggest "in the mid-2000s were on a par" to match the plural "counts". Also, in Brit Eng., it would be "on a par with", or you could just use "comparable".
  • "leads visitors down curving stair hall leads visitors down curving stairs to the galleries" - ??? Perhaps "leads visitors down a curving staircase hall to the galleries below."
One of the downsides of drafting in the final text
  • "large skylights that poke through the several feet of dirt that support the garden." - not getting this. Is the dirt the soil that forms the basis of the garden? And is the garden the Enid A. Haupt Garden, or the lawns that surround the pavilion? And do the skylights "poke" through the dirt? Perhaps something like, "large skylights set into the lawns above."
  • "The museum is slated for remodelling" - see above.
  • "collects items for both their traditional and aesthetic uses" - not sure what an "aesthetic use" is? perhaps, "collects items for both their traditional uses and aesthetic values..."
  • "Its breadth of collections" - suggest "The breadth of its collections.."
  • "with major contributions from Eliot Elisofon " - this is a repetition of information in the para. above.
Yep, paragraphs switch from collection overview to history of how it was developed. I was considering expansion on the specific collections (also source wasn't clear on the provenance of the Elisofon collection)
  • "The United States's relative lack of colonial era African art object acquisitions was reflected in the donations that composed the museum's idiosyncratic collection." - not sure I quite get what this is trying to say. Assuming that the US itself wasn't making acquisitions, I think it's saying something like, "The relative lack of colonial era African art acquisitions in private American collections was reflected in the donations that composed the museum's idiosyncratic collection."
  • "Akan gold pendant from Mildred Barnes Bliss." - this sounds like Mildred Barnes Bliss is a place in Africa. Suggest "Akan gold pendant donated by the heiress Mildred Barnes Bliss."
  • "put items in proximity of each other for comparative value" - suggest "put items in proximity to each other for comparative value.."
I think this is an engvar difference
  • "though they might be shown in separate vitrines. - I'd blue link "vitrine" or use display cabinet.
  • "became controversial for mounting just.." - suggest "became controversial for opening just.."
  • "had a long friendship with Cosbys" - suggest "had a long friendship with the Cosbys"
  • "acknowledged the allegations and focused the exhibit on the artists and artworks, which remained on view." - not sure, perhaps, "acknowledged the allegations and focused attention on the artists and artworks, which remained on view."
  • "a private collection that had not been both pledged to the museum and displayed with outside works" - again, not sure what's meant. Is it, "a private collection that had not been pledged to the museum and was displayed without any outside works."
  • "guided tours with trained docents" - I have never before heard this term. I appreciate it has US currency, and that you link it, but wouldn't "took tours with trained guides" be clearer for all non-US readers?
It's definitely a vocab word but the term is not necessary synonymous with "guides", as it typically reflects a volunteer capacity (otherwise the museum would just call them "guides")
  • "reviewers criticized the architectural choices behind the building" - not sure I get "choices", perhaps, "reviewers criticized architectural features of the museum...", it also avoids the repetition of "choices" and "building" which you've got twice within the one sentence.
  • "He had reserved praise for the complex's "clever" layout" - sounds like he held praise back, suggest; "He had some praise for the complex's "clever" layout".
  • "the designer's maximized underground utility with minimal above-ground changes" - perhaps, "and how the designers had maximized underground utility while making minimal above-ground changes".
  • "The other reviewers, in turn, were unsettled.." - assuming there wasn't a limit to the number of reviewers, and that their reactions weren't conditional on Goldberg's, perhaps "Other reviewers were unsettled.."
I had referred to three reviewers earlier, so I was referring to the other two—I'll be more specific
  • "natural light would add conservation issues for their wood sculptures" - perhaps, "natural light would create conservation issues for their wood sculptures".
  • " The museum felt restrained as part of the larger complex, and lacking in "flair" - said who? This needs attribution.
  • "The reviewer also praised the bright colors of the "Playful Performers" children's exhibition." - it's not strictly a prose issue but, personally, I think this gives a slightly weak ending to a strong and interesting article. I'll come back to this in the Scope section.
b (MoS):
  • I consider that the article complies with MoS.

2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.

a (references)
A few points on references/accuracy:
  • Personally, I'd have a few more in-line citations. As an example, the, fact-packed, first para. of the History section has one cite at the end. This cite does support everything that precedes it, but I'd put a few in as the para. unfolds. But it's not a reason to fail and in other places you do have plenty of in-line cites.
I used to think that more frequent footnotes would protect the text's credibility against uncited additions, but in effect, overciting can create just as much confusion
  • "Cole will retire in March 2017." - needs updating as we're in July. Also, Dr. Cole is still in the infobox as Director, and appears still to be in post from their website
  • "The renovation is supported by private and federal investment, and is expected to begin in 2016" - the source (19) is dated 2014. Do we have an updated source which says whether or not the work did begin last year?
Not in secondary sources, only that they installed a "permanent" outdoor sculpture in late 2016 (added)
b (citations to reliable sources):
Only a few issues/comments (most of which, e.g. paywalls, you can't do anything about):
  • Washington Post sources - 4/8/10/11/12/13/27/28/29/30 - all paywalled, but the snippets suggest accuracy.
  • Washington Post sources - 13/15/17/32 - not paywalled (why?) and certainly accurate.
  • Source 5 is a book I don't have - but it certainly appears reliable.
  • Source 7 - JSTOR but accurate
  • Sources 24/25 - can we convert the bare urls. These are the only two that need action.
c (OR):
  • I'm not seeing any original research.
d (No evidence of plagiarism or copyright violations):
  • The Copyvio detector gives a Low violation reading, and that comes from the repetition of names etc. Nor have I seen any too close paraphrasing from the sources. So, that's a Pass.

3. It is broad in its scope

a (major aspects)
  • I think the article's scope is entirely appropriate. The main elements of the museum's story are all covered: its foundation and subsequent history; the architecture of the building, and critical views of it; its collections, exhibitions and their receptions; its curators and its controversies. Certainly a Pass.
b (focused):
With one possible exception, I think it remains well focussed on the key points:
  • "The reviewer also praised the bright colors of the "Playful Performers" children's exhibition." I think I would remove the last sentence of the Reception section. It's a passing comment on one of the museum's lesser exhibitions, and I think it causes an otherwise strong article to end on a Diminuendo note. But I'd stress this is a suggestion, not a failure against the criteria.

4. It follows the neutral point of view policy

  • The article describes the museum, and its occasionally controversial history, from a properly neutral perspective.

5. It is stable

  • The article is stable.

6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.

a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales):
  • Images are tagged appropriately and have appropriate licences.
b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
Captions are fine. Only two observations:
  • The three images outside of the infobox and the list of Directors are black and white and give a slightly old-fashioned look to the article. Is there anything more up to date?
The Smithsonian is only quasi-public so their releases are tricky. I added the best images I could find, though. I imagine the images were designed for newspaper publication, hence the black & white
  • I'd quite like to see a shot, or two, of the exhibits - given the article's about the collection as much as the building. I see Commons has a wide selection, from which a few could be taken?
I don't know how representative the stuff on Commons is of the whole collection (not the major pieces, and contemporary stuff is under copyright). Commons doesn't have shots of the exhibition spaces, but if you mean the individual pieces, I added a few shots. Some of the others Commons shots are poisoned fruit—definitely don't have copyright cleared. I did, however, find some nice media on the Voguing Masquerade Ball to upload

7. Overall:

Pass/Fail: On Hold - while the editor has the opportunity to consider the above suggestions.
Now Pass - Editor has considered/addressed all points raised in the GAR.


Thanks for picking this up, @KJP1! I know you're not finished yet, but I'll start with the minor fixes. Wanted to mention that I'd like your advice on what to do with the "Reception" section. I thought it would be a nice addition but the other museum GAs do not have anything like it. I thought I might expand it with commentary from the museum's other exhibitions (the shows aren't quite "reviewed" but sometimes critics do have comments) but I wasn't sure where to draw the line—what exhibitions to cover and in what depth, for instance. Or perhaps I should exclude it altogether? Anyway, appreciate your time. czar 21:41, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

My pleasure - it's a very interesting article. Work away on the minor fixes as we go through. It will take me a bit longer to finish the review. Re. the "Reception" section, I actually like this, and think it's important, particularly for architecture articles (which this is to an extent), that we give a sense of what critics/users/staff etc. thought about the building. I actually made this very point in a peer review of the Voxman Music Building I did a whiles ago; "Something on the building's reception would be useful. Do architectural critics / its users (teachers/students/performers) like it or loathe it?"
But I agree you could get too in depth if you tried to cover reaction to all the major exhibitions as well. I'll have a think, and make any suggestions in the "Scope" section. All the best. KJP1 (talk) 22:05, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Very helpful review, definitely among the best I've received on WP. I think I've addressed the applicable changes above (either in text or in comment), if you'll have a look. Thank you again, @KJP1! czar 17:19, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
@Czar: Many thanks - all suggestions/comments addressed or considered in the redraft and delighted to pass it. All the best. KJP1 (talk) 22:10, 23 July 2017 (UTC)


Looking for ideas/sources to expand the Reception (and any other?) sections, particularly specific reviews or publications of noteworthy shows/events. Though I don't want to dive into minutiae or unbalance the weight from the rest of the article, I could use some extra eyes for sources that would complement what has already been said. (Send me a {{ping}} in case I miss it) czar 18:33, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

Reviews of exhibitions/shows[edit]

Feel free to dump more here czar 19:07, 22 August 2017 (UTC)