The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is reportedly considering adding drawings made by formerly detained migrant children to its collection. Following months of public outcry against appalling conditions at some Border Patrol facilities, this is widely seen as a move to document an invaluable part of American history.
Some of the children’s images feature stick figures frowning, a general state of despair and people scattered on floors under blankets.
The drawings made headlines last week when the American Academy of Pediatrics toured the border facilities and released images to the public. They were the works of three children around ten years of age who were separated from their parents at the border in a Texas.
Laura Duff, a spokesperson for the National Museum of American History, said that the museum was in early stages of planning an acquisition. The museum said that a curator had contacted the American Academy of Pediatrics to ask about the drawings “as part of an exploratory process.”
“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,” the statement read.
The interest in the drawings is certainly consistent with the museum’s mission “to inspire people to know more about American history and to hopefully create a more humane society.” Jas Chana of New York’s Tenement Museum, which highlights immigrant and refugee stories, said that the drawings will be retrospectively regarded as artefacts of history in the future.
“The fact that the drawings are so realistic and horrific gives us a view into what these children have experienced,” Colleen Kraft, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN. “When a child draws this, it’s telling us that child felt like he or she was in jail.”
As per the Smithsonian’s statement, this is not a politically-motivated move or even the first time curators have sought after collectible artefacts from era-defining events. Shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, a team of museum staff travelled to Ground Zero in search of objects that can represent the attacks and rescue initiatives. Among the objects that were collected and then added to the museum’s collection were a fire trick door, a cell phone used by the mayor of New York at the time, and parts of the World Trade Center buildings.