What It Means to Be American

What It Means to Be American

The National Museum of American History and Zócalo Public Square have joined together to produce an unprecedented partnership and a new, three-year project: What It Means to Be American.  Beginning in 2014, this national, multi-platform conversation will bring together leading thinkers, public figures, and Americans from all walks of life to explore big, visceral questions about how America’s history of migration and immigration, democratic traditions, and shared history and culture have made us the nation we are today. Through live public events, humanities journalism, newspapers, television and radio, and in partnership with leading museums and universities around the nation, Zócalo and the Smithsonian will ask and find many answers to the question, what does it mean to be American?

The What It Means to Be American project will include:

  • 27 large-scale, free, public events in nine cities across the country, from Washington, D.C. to Honolulu, Hawaii, where the nation’s top historians, scholars, and public thinkers will engage a national audience in an examination of powerful and relevant ideas wrapped in historical context.
  • A dedicated website at www.whatitmeanstobeamerican.org  featuring original humanities journalism—curated, solicited, and edited by Zócalo’s experienced editorial staff, and grounded in the curatorial expertise of the National Museum of American History.
  • Digital social interactivity projects that will invite Americans to share their stories and experiences with us and with one another. (#WIMTBA)

This project coincides with the development and opening of many new exhibitions and programmatic spaces in the West Wing of the National Museum of American History, all of which will explore further the notion of what it means to be American in many different contexts.  Two major exhibitions on 2 West, on American Democracy and on the history of Immigration and Migration in the United States, will especially focus on this topic. 

For more information on 2 West projects and new exhibitions:

Want to find out what programs may be happening near you? Check out www.WhatitMeanstoBeAmerican.org/events!  New events will be posted as they are confirmed so keep checking back.

What It Means to Be American is an ambitious project to encourage active civil discourse by providing a safe, non-partisan arena for Americans to come together to discuss the past, present, and future of the nation. 

Learn more about our partners at Zócalo Public Square by visiting their website.