The National Museum of African American History and Culture at sunrise on March 18, 2015. (Photo by Michael R. Barnes / Smithsonian Institution)
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Director: Lonnie G. Bunch III
Total Full-Time Employees: 163
Annual Budget (federal and trust) FY 2017: $41.3 million
Approximate Number of Artifacts: 37,000
The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened Sept. 24, 2016, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Occupying a prominent 5-acre location next to the Washington Monument, the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. The museum was created in 2003 by an act of Congress, establishing it as part of the Smithsonian. Construction began in February 2012 with a ceremonial groundbreaking.
The museum has about 3,000 objects on display from its collection of nearly 40,000. Highlights include:
- Harriet Tubman collection, including her hymnal (c. 1876); lace shawl (c. 1897), given to her by Queen Victoria; and family photographs from her funeral
- Jim Crow railroad car (c. 1920)
- Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac convertible (c. 1973)
- Black Fashion Museum Collection (about 1,000 items)
- Tuskegee Airmen Trainer Plane, an open-cockpit PT-13 Stearman (c. 1942) used to prepare Tuskegee Airmen for World War II combat duty
- Works of art by Charles Alston, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Lorna Simpson, Romare Bearden, Archibald John Motley Jr., Henry O. Tanner and Frederick C. Flemister
- Emmett Till’s casket (c. 1955)—the glass-topped coffin that held the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till, whose murder in Mississippi helped galvanize the civil rights movement
- Slave cabin from Edisto Island, S.C. (c. 1800–50)
Building Layout and Inaugural Exhibitions
Located at the corner of 15th Street N.W. and Constitution Avenue, the museum includes exhibition galleries, an education center, a theater, an auditorium, a café, a store and offices. The museum’s inaugural exhibitions focus on broad themes of history, culture and community. These exhibitions have been conceived to help transform visitors’ understanding of American history and culture and to help visitors adapt to and participate in changing definitions of American citizenship, liberty and equality. The exhibitions employ a range of interpretive and experiential strategies.
Fifth floor: Staff offices, boardroom
Third floor: Community galleries: “Power of Place,” “Making a Way Out of No Way,” “Sports: Leveling the Playing Field,” “Double Victory: The African American Military Experience”
Second floor: Education space, resource center, the “Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts”
First floor: Central hall, welcome center, Corona Pavilion, store.
Concourse 1: History Gallery—“A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond”
Concourse 2: History Gallery—“Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968”
Concourse 3: History Gallery—“Slavery and Freedom 1400-1877”
The museum is open 364 days a year. Regular operating hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The museum is closed Dec. 25.
Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the museum has welcomed about 1.5 million visitors. The museum uses a free timed-pass system to serve as many visitors as possible.
Online same-day timed passes: Visitors can obtain passes on the day of their planned visit starting at 6:30 a.m. on the museum’s website at nmaahc.si.edu/sameday.
Walk-up passes: A limited number of walk-up passes are available at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. No walk-up passes are available on weekends due to high visitation.
Advance timed-entry passes for individuals are released the first Wednesday of each month at nmaahc.si.edu or by calling 866-297-4020. The next release for September 2017 passes will be June 7 at 9 a.m.
For more information, visit http://newsdesk.si.edu and https://nmaahc.si.edu/ and follow the museum on social media: @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat—or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.
# # #