September 24th marked a pivotal moment in American history. The Smithsonian celebrated the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). This museum is unique because it is a Smithsonian museum that explicitly highlights Black people’s history and contributions in this country.
Thousands of men, women, and children of various racial backgrounds, and ages gathered at the Nation’s Capital for a weekend of celebration to honor this glorious occasion. The dedication ceremony included a special key note address from President Barack Obama, the first elected Black President of the United States. Over the course of the weekend, Friday through Sunday at the Washington Monument grounds, the Freedom Sounds Festival highlighted various performers. It was a magical experience and people were there even though they couldn’t get tickets to view the inside of the museum. Although the museum is free, timed passed were issued for access to the museum and they quickly ran out. So far tickets are sold out throughout the end of 2016 so anyone seeking to visit the museum are looking at extended wait times because the demand is just that high. I was lucky enough to obtain tickets to view the museum during this weekend and it is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
The black experience in America began under harsh conditions yet, in spite of those, we have been able to persevere and thrive and it’s important to note that the highs and lows are exhibited throughout. To get the full experience of the museum, it’s best to start on the very bottom level. There, the journey begins with enslaved Africans being brought over to America. You are shown some of the ship ledgers and various methods used to pack the ships with its “human cargo.” From there you transition to the “new world” continuing all the way up to contemporary times. It’s truly an emotionally draining journey and we had only just begun. In an effort to keep it short and sweet, I will say that NMAAHC gives you a pretty good overview of the African American experience.
Highlights from some of the exhibits in the museum include the bible of Nat Turner, the original casket that Emmett Till was buried in, shards from the 16th Street Baptist church bombing, the tape recorder used by Malcolm X to record his radio show, and a ton more. There is so much information in this museum that after spending over 4 hours in it, we still had not seen everything. Out of the eight floors that are open to the public, we were only able to see six. I would suggest taking your time throughout because there’s a lot to see and wear comfortable shoes. You definitely cannot rush through this museum.
I highly recommend visiting the museum, you definitely will not be disappointed.
1400 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20560
Fee to Visit:
There is no fee to visit this site but, until further notice you will need to obtain time passes to visit the museum.
For More Information:
Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) website for additional information here.