NMAAHC, WashingtonDC, opening

Washington, D.C.


The newest of the Smithsonian museums on the Washington Mall opens to the public.

Created by an Act of Congress in 2003, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is now open to the public in our nation’s capitol.  The museum with its striking facade sits on the Washington Mall between the Washington Monument and National Museum of American History.  It’s the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history, and culture.

Historical galleries walk visitors through the various stages of the African-American experience in this country:

  • Slavery and Freedom
  • Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation (1876-1968)
  • A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond

Other galleries in the museum celebrate African Americans’ achievements in music, visual arts, theater, television, film, and sports.

The museum houses more than 36,000 artifacts in its collection.  You and your family can see:

  • Harriet Tubman collection, including her hymnal, lace shawl, and family photographs from her funeral
  • Jim Crow railroad car
  • Slave cabin from Edisto Island, South Carolina
  • Open-cockpit PT-13 Stearman, a trainer plane used to prepare the Tuskegee Airmen for World War II combat duty
  • Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac convertible

Due to the level of interest, the museum has implemented a timed pass system.  While admission is free, you should reserve timed tickets online in advance of your visit.  A limited number of same-day passes will be available.

The museum was constructed at a cost of $540 million with a goal of raising $270 million in private donations.  Oprah Winfrey, chairman and CEO of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and a member of the museum’s advisory council, contributed $12 million.  In recognition of her gift, the museum’s 350-seat theater is named in her honor.  Other notable donations were given by television producer Shonda Rhimes, actor Samuel L. Jackson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to the NBA and NFL.  The Ford, Gates, Rockefeller, and Mellon Foundations and corporations like General Electric and Walmart also gave generously.

Photo courtesy: Douglas Remley (Smithsonian)