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Take a Look Inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture

By Kate Gibbs | September 9, 2016 | Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has arrived!

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History in the makers: The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collection of 34,000 artifacts includes a South Carolina slave cabin, Nat Turner’s Bible, a fighter flown by Tuskegee airmen, Muhammad Ali’s headgear, and Michael Jackson’s fedora.

On September 24, President Obama will add a meaningful coda to his two terms in office when he cuts the ribbon on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, a long-awaited touchstone for dialogue and understanding.

Such major donors as Shonda Rhimes, Samuel L. Jackson, and Oprah Winfrey (writer of the largest single check, at $20 million) will be there. The opening weekend also includes a three-day festival of music, dance, and film on the museum lawn.

African-born starchitect David Adjaye drew from Yoruba meetinghouses for the museum’s tiered exterior, and the façade’s bronzed, perforated tiles suggest the ornate metalwork made by New Orleans slaves. Some exhibits, including a Jim Crow-era train car and an Angola Prison guard tower, are so large they had to be installed while the building was under construction.

“The museum is a significant addition to our national mall,” says museum council member General Colin Powell, whose military memorabilia will be displayed. “It tells the story of African American history as an integral part of American history.”

Fully 100 years ago, black Civil War veterans called for a national space celebrating African Americans’ contributions. Lines at the museum will be long, but the much longer wait is finally over. 1400 Constitution Ave. NW, 202-633-1000



Photography by: PhotograPhy by alan Karchmer