The Smithsonian Museum is looking to acquire drawings made by migrant children

The museum's important call to document future history.

  • Photos taken by a staff member of the American Academy of Pediatrics has caught the eye of a Smithsonian curator.
  • The drawings made by the migrant children features bars and cages.
  • The Smithsonian Museum believes that it is important to record and catalogue these types of historical situations.

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has recently expressed interest in acquiring drawings from formerly detained migrant children. These drawings emerged after the American Academy of Pediatrics toured the detention facilities at the U.S. border.

A.A.P. members were shocked not only to discover the condition of the detention camp and lack of proper pediatric doctor access for the children, but also their melancholic drawings. Many of which featured cage and bar imagery.

A representative of the museum has confirmed that it is their intention to explore this acquisition as the museum believes that it's important to broadcast this type of art. The Smithsonian is on record stating:

"The museum has a long commitment to telling the complex and complicated history of the United States and to documenting that history as it unfolds, such as it did following 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and as it does with political campaigns."

Source of the drawings

A.A.P. staff member, Dr. Sara Goza, took the pictures of the drawings at the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Humanitarian Respite Center. This center is a halfway resting spot for families just released from the detention facilities. Most families don't stay more than a day before going to find family members or sponsors.

Sister Norma Pimentel, the executive director of the organization, told Dr. Goza that the three artists were 10 and 11 years old, but she did not know any of their names.

Two of the drawings are stick figures with prominent cage imagery drawn over them. There seems to be figures lying on the floor with a hat-wearing figure staring down at them. Another drawing shows only a couple of toilets overlaid with bars.

The Smithsonian's discovery of the drawings were from Dr. Goza's photos. For some, the photos have become a symbolic representation of the migrant plight.

Sister Pimentel has said that there were many drawings created by the children and not all of them were about being behind bars.

"Here, children have an opportunity to be children again, because they've been scared and they've seen their parents crying. . . I believe that these children show a lot of resilience. Many of their drawings show very positive things, and that's something that's very beautiful."

Smithsonian’s reasoning for acquisition

In a statement to NPR, Brent Glass, director emeritus of the National Museum of American History said that he believes this potential art acquisition is a way "to inspire people to know more about American history and to hopefully create a more humane society."

Glass also claims that this was not a political decision, but one that reflected the Smithsonian's work and mission to collect works that are culturally relevant for a certain time period. While he noted that there is some "political implication or consequence" in these drawings, the overarching intention is to create some kind of documentary record rather than making an overt political statement.

The museum has a massive collection of more than 1.8 million objects, some of those being artifacts from the border with Mexico. These drawings would simply be keeping with the tradition of their mission. That is, to "explore the infinite richness and complexity of American history."

Should you defend the free speech rights of neo-Nazis?

Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
  • In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

This smart tech gives plants feelings

Designers from Luxembourg created a smart planter that can make anyone have a green thumb.

Images credit: mu-design
Technology & Innovation
  • A design team came up with a smart planter that can indicate 15 emotions.
  • The emotions are derived from the sensors placed in the planter.
  • The device is not in production yet but you can order it through a crowdfunding campaign.
Keep reading Show less

10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

Culture & Religion
  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
  • Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • Often times, interactions that we think are "zero-sum" can actually be beneficial for both parties.
  • Ask, What outcome will be good for both parties? How can we achieve that goal?
  • Afraid the win-win situation might not continue? Build trust by creating a situation that increases the probability you and your counterpart will meet again.