National Museum of African American History and Culture

^Top image: The National Museum of African American History and Culture stands on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Credit: © Alan Karchmer, National Museum of African American History and Culture

On Saturday, September 24, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opened to the public in Washington, D.C. Located on the National Mall, the museum details the history of slavery, the period of Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, segregation, and civil rights. It also highlights African Americans’ achievements in the arts, entertainment, military, politics, sports, and other aspects of the wider culture. The NMAAHC is a bureau of theSmithsonian Institution.

President Barack Obama, together with his family, helped dedicate the museum. “This national museum helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are,” he said. “Hopefully, this museum can help us to talk to each other. And more importantly, listen to each other. And most importantly, see each other. Black and white and Latino and Native American and Asian American—see how our stories are bound together.” In 2009, Obama made history as the first African American president of the United States. His speech on Saturday came amid racial tensions stirred by recent police shootings of black men in Charlotte,North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.


^The dedication ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture took place on Sept. 24, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Credit: © National Museum of African American History and Culture

Former President George W. Bush, who authorized construction of the museum in 2003, joined President Obama at the NMAAHC dedication.“A great nation,” he said, “does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and it corrects them.”

Cultural material collected by the museum includes works of art, historical artifacts, photographs, moving images, archival documents, electronic data, audio recordings, books, and manuscripts. The museum’s notable collections include the Harriet Tubman Collection, featuring dozens of artifacts that belonged to the underground railroad leader; the Ernest C. Withers Photography Collection; and the Black Fashion Museum Collection. The $540-million museum was designed by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, who was inspired by Yoruban art from West Africa.


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