Are you planning a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.? I have the best guide for you.
Opened in 2016, it is the Smithsonian's newest museum and quite spectacular.
The museum is a unique destination for learning about the complexity and rebellious nature of African American life and experiences, with all its ups and downs.
It is a culture with a long history of pain and pride. Even if you know the historical background, you'll likely find the museum chock full of facts informative, disturbing, and uplifting.
The museum is located on 12 acres of prime land adjacent to the Washington Monument. During his keynote address, President Obama delivered the keynote address. Oprah Winfrey and actor Will Smith also gave speeches.
African American Museum Guide: general description
Let's begin our guide to the National Museum of African American History and Culture with an overview of the museum and its contents.
The construction of the museum took a long time. Beginning in 1915, African-American citizens proposed a museum to pay tribute to African-American history. In the 1960s there was another push towards creating a museum.
Finally, in 1990, the Smithsonian created a commission to study the potential of a museum. In 2003, legislation was passed establishing the current museum, which opened in 2016.
The museum is housed in a beautiful temple-like building with African influences. Tanzanian-born architect David Adjaye led the design team. The building cost more than $500 million and was paid for with federal and private funds.
The beautiful facade has a "skin" or "crown" that covers a glass box. It consists of 3,600 filamentary bronze-colored aluminum plates arranged in three inverted pyramids.
The look was inspired by an African Yoruba sculpture with a three-tiered crown on its head.
The open design is meant to evoke the look of ironwork done by free and enslaved craftsmen in the 19th century. It also serves to moderate the amount of light and heat that enters the building.
When it was first revealed, some hated the structure. I found it a nice and attractive contrast to the profusion of marble and concrete neoclassical buildings in the area.national mall.
Any visitor, including a child, requires a timed admission ticket to enter the museum. Before it was impossible to get a ticket.
But things have calmed down a bit, especially during the week. You can book a ticket online in advance.Here.
The first floor is a large atrium called Heritage Hall. You will see a beautiful art installation made of bronze, copper and brass. Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt, who donated it to the museum.
There is also a trio of sculptures by Elizabeth Catlett. They serve as the "gatekeepers of the black narrative."
Here you can pick up a paper map of the museum or scan a QR code to get a map.
There are free lockers and restrooms on this level, as well as a well-stocked museum gift shop with everything from hot sauce to T-shirts and history books.
The museum exhibits were designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates. They are divided into three subject areas: (1) history; (2) community; and (3) culture. You'll discover artifacts that illustrate the complexities of the African-American experience over time.
There are newspaper clippings, posters, memorabilia, historical artifacts, videos, theater, touch screens, and mobile exhibits. There is a large collection of photographs documenting historical events and portraying famous people.
Sometimes the museum feels like cacaphony when TVs, videos, and pre-recorded voiceovers play simultaneously. Printed material is everywhere you look. The museum is an exhilarating place, almost overwhelming in its collage style.
I think you should visit the museum in more or less chronological order. This means that you start your visit underground in the history section, the most important part of the museum.
It is divided into 3 exhibitions/floors: (1) Slavery and Freedom; (2) the age of segregation; and (3) a changing America. (If history is too much for you, you can skip this section and visit the brighter galleries on floors 3 and 4.)
To get to the history department, take the escalators or the impressive spiral staircase from the first floor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Concourse. There, look for the "History" elevator.
There is only one elevator, which can cause bottlenecks. It takes you 70 feet down to the C3 level and the beginning of the story section.
As you descend, you'll see glass walls with dates depicting time travel. The elevator symbolizes the hold of the slave ship.
The history area is only accessible via walking ramps in the exhibition rooms. There are no exits on the road. At the end you are back in the lobby.
Then go to the third floor to the common area (sports, military, etc.). Then end your visit strong on the fourth floor of the culture department (film, television, music, food).
Smithsonian National Museum of African History and Culture Guide: What to See
When the Smithsonian Museum was founded, many wondered if it would be possible to amass enough exhibits to form a national collection. Given the country's history of slavery and oppression, this seemed like a daunting task.
The museum had to practically build its collection from scratch. In response to a nationwide call for donations, we are pleased to welcome thousands of donors.
Many of them were ordinary people who made valuable individual gifts and family heirlooms to help the museum fulfill its mission.
Many of the items are associated with the biggest stars and businessmen in the African-American community. But there are also everyday objects from people's daily lives. You can feel the very human stories behind it.
The opening display is one of (mostly) undiminished violence and pain. It has the oldest and most valuable exhibits and begins its narration in 1400.
slavery and freedom
The historical part begins centuries ago with the transatlantic slave trade, the largest forced migration in history. It faces American oppression and black slavery from 1619 to 1865 and is therefore rather dark in tone.
The exhibition ignores the miserable conditions suffered by people on slave ships, perhaps an unfortunate oversight and something that sets this museum apart from Boundless.Holocaust Museum.
You'll see an auction block where slaves, handcuffs, an iron neck ring with a padlock, a whip used on slave ships, a crumpled Nat Turner Bible, and Confederate slave ID cards were sold.
There is also a proper statue of Thomas Jefferson facing a brick wall with the names of the people he owned as slaves. Below is the headline "The Paradox of Freedom."
Further afield is a reconstructed slave hut from a plantation on Edisto Island, South Carolina. It dates from the first half of the 19th century.
Other exhibits are more uplifting, a theme of resilience that the museum sees as part of its mission. After all, despite slavery and discrimination, African Americans thrived, survived, and prospered.
For example, there is a section dedicated to Harriet Tubman. She was a former slave who escaped in the 19th century and helped others secure her freedom via the Underground Railroad.
You can see her portrait, a personal hymnbook, and a lace shawl given to her by Queen Victoria of England in 1831.
In 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves. You can see an inkwell that he used to write parts of the document.
The age of segregation
This second section is no less heartbreaking and you might be surprised by the heartbreaking elements on display. They show that the word 'freedom' was used rather loosely in practice.
He was very disgusted by the display of the Ku Klux Klan hood and uniform along with photos of lynchings. In some photos, white citizens stand over mutilated bodies. True symbols of hate...
There is also the haunting coffin that once contained the mutilated body of Emmett Till, which was placed in his own room. He was a young teenager who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for the "crime" of whistling at a white woman.
His murder and burial in an open casket was a catalyst for the civil rights movement. A video about his life and death accompanies it. Photos cannot be taken in this room.
You can also sit at a restaurant run by Woolworth's in Greensboro N.C. it is separated. (it was quite busy).
You'll get an in-depth look at the impact of the civil rights movement on a Jim Crow society. There is a 45 inch projection screen for pictures and stories.
Other exhibits include whites-only doors and rooms, the dress Rosa Parks wore on the day of her arrest, a 21-foot concrete watchtower, and a separate Pullman passenger car that once traveled from Washington DC to New Orleans.
The museum was built around the 77-ton wagon. You can walk and see the separate sectors for blacks and whites paying the same ticket.
a world in transition
This section focuses on the recent social upheaval.
Above all, this floor documents the civil rights movement, a time of protest, change and the fight for human rights. It charts the rise and importance of pioneering figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Black Panthers.
There is a small section on President Obama with excerpts from various speeches. I was honestly surprised I didn't see more.
As you exit the history galleries, you'll see a biplane used to train the Tuskegee Airmen, the African-American military pilots who fought in World War II.
To her left is a quote from the black poet Langston Hughes in large letters: "I am America too."
When you are done with the history section of the museum, you can visit the Contemplative Courtyard on the Esplanade level. It is a room designed to help you transition from the dark historical themes below to the more rejuvenating themes above in what is known as the 'Attic'.
The patio is a beautiful space with glass lattice walls. A central basin contains rainwater cascading from an upper oculus.
This part of the museum is not arranged strictly chronologically. Examines the achievements of African Americans in fields such as the arts, sports, and the military.
The sports section is an ode to incredibly prominent athletes in major sports: Jackie Robinson, Willy Mays, Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Mohammed Ali, Serena and Venus Williams, Arthur Ashe, Gabby Douglas, and Simone Manuel. The sport was one of the first major fields to accept African-Americans due to relative equality.
Among other things, you will be able to marvel at:
- Bespoke Carl Lewis Olympic Shoes and Medals
- Mohammed Ali's boxing gloves and headgear
- an exhibition on the famous "footprint" of Willy May in the world series
- a Hank Aaron shirt
- a Kareen Abdul Jabar shirt
- a room and a sculpture of Michael Jordan
- The white blazer of the tennis player Althea Gibon
- Medias Gaby Douglas
You'll see a group of life-size sculptures depicting the famous black power salute from the 1969 Olympics.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists as the US national anthem was played during the awards ceremony. They were quickly eliminated from the rest of the games.
There's also a display of stunning gowns made by pioneering seamstress and fashion designer Anne Lowe.
His Manhattan salon was the place to be for celebrities. She designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress in 1953.
Department of Culture
The cultural section on the fourth floor is dedicated to the African-American influence in film, television, theater, dance, and the visual arts. From this level you have an excellent view of the monuments and monuments through the windows.
You enter a circular gallery with a top ring that constantly plays videos. They relate to topics such as food, clothing, style, and language.
In the center is the wooden pillar sculpture that inspired the museum's design, carved by the great folk artist Olowe of Ise.
The musical section is deep and above all fun.
You'll see Chuck Berry's red 1973 Cadillac, Michael Jackson's hat and jacket, the P-Funk mothership (pop music's most iconic stage accessory), lots of music posters, Louis Armstrong's trumpet and vest. Jimi Hendrix sequined afghan style.
Unfortunately, the museum houses exhibits and video clips about the disgraced comedian Bill Cosby. The museum felt that he was too important a figure in the African-American presence on television to be left out.
If I think. But there should have been more than one sentence about her disgusting penchant for sexual assault. Otherwise, by not deleting Cosby, delete the women's history.
There was also no mention of Jackson's history of child abuse, a significant omission.
Of course, there is a room dedicated to the storied legacy of Oprah Winfrey and her legendary daytime talk show. And you can see the red Starfleet uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura.Star Trek.
In the section "Get on stage" you can see clothes and posters of theater and dance pieces. The photos of Alvin Haily's performances and artists are gorgeous.
There is also a small exhibition of plastic arts with paintings and sculptures. My favorite pieces weredancer, an abstract sculpture by Sargent and Claude JohnsonSpring - Beautiful flower bed, a painting by Alma Thomas.
Another room documents the presidency of Barack Obama with excerpts from some of his speeches. It should be some kind of happy ending for the museum.
But Obama is not the end of the story for African Americans.
There are also artifacts that reflect recent events, such as the Black Lives Matter protests, which highlight the current inequality and police brutality that continues to this day.
Practical guide and tips for visiting the Museum of African American History and Culture
Here are some tips and information on how to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
ADDRESS: 1400 Constitución Avenue NW
Standard: Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Last admission is at 4 p.m.
Admission is free, but a timed ticket must be reserved. ClickHereto reserve one. You can do it up to 30 days in advance.
You may want to book a guided tour if you're in a hurry or want to make sure you see everything. He3.5 hoursThe tour takes you to the museum and various monuments.
restaurant: The museum houses the Sweet Home Cafe, which serves southern food. I found it quite mediocre and expensive. If you don't like southern food, I would plan to eat elsewhere.
Be sure to check the map before you start your visit. The museum has a tangle of elevators, escalators and ramps that can be confusing.
You can download those tooNMAAHC Application. You'll get access to information about the exhibits, explore stories, and watch videos.
Many of the museum's walls and ceilings are naturally black. This makes the museum feel quite dark and you may want more lighting, especially in the history section.
There are lockers in Heritage Hall to store your belongings during your visit.
how long to visit
The museum is just loaded with information. The walls are covered with thousands of panels of text.
Reading all this would take many hours or even days. This is a museum that rewards multiple visits.
After all, there are more than 100,000 square meters of exhibition space. It's hard to take it all in at once, especially when other attendees are waiting to see the exhibits.
Where to stay near the African American Museum?
There are some good hotels within walking distance of the museum, including this one.Willard InterContinental Washington, oHilton National Mall,Kimpton Hotel Monaco,Hotel Hilton Garden, It's inHay-Adams.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to the Smithsonian African American Museum in Washington D.C. please. You can check out these other Washington D.C. travel guides and resources. enjoy:
- Washington DC 2-Day Itinerary
- Guide to the National Mall
- Holocaust Museum Guide
- National art gallery guide
- Guide to the National Portrait Gallery
- Hirshhorn Sculpture Gallery Guide
- Phillips Collection Guide
If you need a guide to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, pin it for later.
Touring the Museum
Please be aware that touring the History Galleries in their entirety will take approximately 2 hours, and will require about 1 mile of walking.
Visitors are permitted to carry their luggage throughout the Museum if needed.Why is the African American Museum closed? ›
As a public health precaution due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), the National Museum of African American History and Culture will temporarily close to the public starting Saturday, March 14. We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all our visitors, employees, and volunteers.What should I not miss at AMNH? ›
- Blue Whale.
- Hayden Planetarium.
- Amethyst Crystals.
- Sequoia Round.
- Maoi Head.
The Museum's Lunar Touch Rock
One of the Museum's most enduring and popular exhibits has been a piece of the Moon that you can touch. The rock, on loan from NASA, was collected during the Apollo 17 mission and is one of only a few touchable lunar sample displays in the world.
Start with the History Gallery
There's so much information here that you could literally spend days absorbing the information. Galleries include shackles, a slave auction block and Ku Klux Klan robes.
- 301 6th St. SW. ...
- 88 K St. SE. ...
- 901 D St. SW. ...
- 445 12th St. SW. ...
- 1230 Maryland Ave. SW. The Portals Garage. ...
- 1275 New Jersey Ave. SE. The Yards Parcel G Garage. ...
- 1330 Maryland Ave. SW. Mandarin Oriental Hotel - Valet Kiosk. ...
- 1300 D St. SW. The Portals III Garage.
Admission is free! Reservations are not required. Face masks, especially surgical N95, KN95, or KF94, are strongly recommended. No large bags, as our bag check is currently closed.Can I bring a water bottle into the Smithsonian? ›
Visitors are permitted to bring food and beverages in sealed containers inside a backpack or other bag. Food and beverages may not be consumed in the museum.What items are not allowed in the Smithsonian? ›
Many items are prohibited at all Smithsonian museums. Do not bring sharp items into the museums such as knives (including pocket or "Swiss Army" style knives), screwdrivers, scissors, etc. Other items not permitted include firearms, pepper spray, and Mace.
Food and non-alcoholic drinks can be brought into the museum, but no food or drink is permitted in the galleries.What is the largest African American museum in the United States? ›
The National Museum of African American History and Culture 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.How much did Oprah donate to the African American Museum? ›
Oprah Winfrey Makes $12 Million Gift to African-American History Museum | Philanthropy news | PND.What is so controversial about the Royal museum of Central Africa? ›
There has been controversy surrounding the Royal Museum for Central Africa. It had previously been called a museum that "has remained frozen in time". No mention was made of the pillage of resources and atrocities in the Congo Free State, nor during Belgium's larger colonial era.How much is the shark exhibit at AMNH? ›
How much is admission to the Sharks exhibit? General Admission Plus One includes general admission plus one special exhibition, giant-screen 2D or 3D film, or Space Show: $28 (adults), $22.50 (students/seniors), $16.50 (children ages 3-12). Reservations required.Is Amnh pay as you wish? ›
2020 Update to Regional Ticketing: Pay What You Wish
To see any of our special exhibitions, reserve a Resident Pricing Ticket. For visitors outside of NY, NJ or CT, the fee for General Admission is mandatory.
Luggage, cloakroom, parking and photography
Both cloakrooms are open for the full range of services, including coats. The cloakroom at the main entrance on Cromwell Road is available for large bags and suitcases only. Large and wheeled suitcases that cannot be carried must be left in the cloakrooms (see prices below).
The over 30-pound lunar rock is one of the largest meteorites that exists today. Moonrock is one of the rarest substances on earth. There are reportedly less than 1,400 pounds of it on the planet. It is available for immediate purchase via Christie's Private Sale.Can you throw a rock from the Moon to Earth? ›
You could, but it wouldn't be super easy. First of all, you have to get off of the Moon. The escape velocity of the Moon is around 2.38 km/s, which is a good estimate of what you would need to leave the Moon's sphere of influence. About 700 m/s of that is the orbital velocity.What is the price of a piece of moon? ›
LONDON (Reuters) - One of the world's largest lunar meteorites goes on private sale at Christie's on Thursday, valued at 2 million pounds ($2.49 million).
The nearest public parking garage is located at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. You may access the parking garage via ramps at 14th Street NW (north and south). Please visit the International Trade Center website for more information.How do you get same day tickets to the Black museum in DC? ›
Timed-entry tickets are made available online up to 30 days in advance of a visit date. These advance passes can be claimed online at 8 a.m.. Museumgoers can obtain same-day passes online starting at 8:15 a.m.How many floors are in the African American Museum DC? ›
The 400,000-square-foot museum spans ten floors, five of which are underground, or 'below grade'—and with so much to see, it can be tough to know where to start.Is there free parking at the Smithsonian? ›
There are no Smithsonian Institution public parking facilities on the National Mall. On-street meter parking options are available but please be advised to carefully check the days and hours of enforcement posted on the parking meters and curbside signs.How much is parking at the Smithsonian? ›
Parking at the Smithsonian — Commercial Parking Lots Nearby
Very centrally located. Weekday rates in 2022 are $25 for up to 15 hours and $17 all day on weekends.
There is FREE parking for all customers from 9am to noon daily!Is parking free at Black Country museum? ›
Is parking available? There is both car and coach parking at the Museum. A parking charge of £3.50 applies to cars for the whole day. BCLM Members and Blue Badge holders park for free, subject to availability.Can veterans get into African American Museum? ›
Instead show your ID (active duty, retired, veteran) and you can enter the museum along with one (1) guest! Because you do not need a ticket, you cannot gift this to someone else, and the veteran must be present in order for the guests to get in.How many black museums are there? ›
The museums were created with a mission of collecting and preserving African-derived culture and history. The Collage Museum was the first African American museum in the US, established in 1868 in Hampton, Virginia. Today, there are 109 such museums across the country.Are backpacks allowed in Smithsonian? ›
Suitcases, large umbrellas, and backpacks are not allowed in the galleries. Security officers may ask you to hand-carry smaller backpacks, or wear them on your front, to protect the artworks.
Smithsonian food policy
There is no rule against bringing food to the Smithsonian. However, you should be aware that there is nowhere where you are allowed to sit down and eat the lunch you brought with you.
- Plan Your Trip At The Right Time. ...
- Leave The Car At Home. ...
- Clear A Path For Fast Walkers. ...
- Meet The Locals for Happy Hour. ...
- Get Guided By A Local Expert. ...
- See As Many Museums As You Want. ...
- Save The Monuments For Night. ...
- Skip The Chains And Support Local Favorites.
Food and drink are not allowed in the gallery, though you are welcome to eat or picnic outside or in the nearby Rose Garden. We do not have a café, but there are numerous restaurants and fast-food spots in the vicinity. See the Exposition Park page on our website for a list.Is there a dress code for Smithsonian museums? ›
When In Doubt, Wear Business Casual. Many of the National Institutions, like the Smithsonian Institution complex, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Natural History Museum are around the same area. This gives you a highly conservative and political vibe.What is the coolest thing in the Smithsonian? ›
- ELECTRONIC SUPER HIGHWAY/Portrait Gallery.
- Amelia Earhart/Air & Space Museum.
- Bill Clinton's sax/American History.
- Space Station/Air&Space.
- Rosie the Riveter/American History.
- Allies in War.
- Chuck Berry's Cadillac/MAAHC.
Please do not:
Touch the artwork. Bring food or drink into the museum. Chew gum. Use flash when taking any photos.
Touring the Museum
Please be aware that touring the History Galleries in their entirety will take approximately 2 hours, and will require about 1 mile of walking.
Most items are accepted, but you must bring food and beverages. There are a few exceptions to the rule that backpacks are not permitted in museums. In most museums and churches, luggage and large backpacks are not permitted. To enter a museum or church, you must check your luggage and any large bags.What should I see at the American Museum of Natural History? ›
For all the space-lovers out there, the Rose Center for Earth and Space is a must-see when visiting the museum of natural history in New York. The Rose Center includes permanent exhibits, the Hayden Planetarium, and Hayden Big Bang Theater for visitors to explore the cosmos.What are the main features of the National Museum of African American History and Culture? ›
It helps all Americans see how their stories, their histories, and their cultures are shaped and informed by global influences. It explores what it means to be an American and share how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture 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.What is the number 1 museum in the US? ›
1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York City.What is the most valuable item in the Natural History Museum? ›
Archaeopteryx lithographica, the most valuable fossil in the Museum. Around 147 million years old.What are some fun facts about the African American museum in DC? ›
The theater is named after Oprah Winfrey. The museum's collection was built from scratch and originally opened with 12 exhibits. The museum has about 85,000 square feet of exhibition space with 12 exhibitions, 13 different interactives with 17 stations, and 183 videos housed on five floors.Where is the biggest black history museum? ›
The largest is the 400,000-square-foot National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. Many have a narrow focus. For example, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City presents the history of the Negro National Leagues from 1920 through 1962.What is unique about Apartheid Museum? ›
The museum is a superb example of design, space and landscape offering the international community a unique South African experience. The exhibits have been assembled and organised by a multi-disciplinary team of curators, film-makers, historians and designers.What is the most famous exhibit in the museum of anthropology? ›
The most famous exhibit is the 24-ton “Sun Stone” (Piedra del Sol). What is this? It was originally thought to be an Aztec calendar.What museum is the Mayan calendar in? ›
Housing this piece in the Getty Museum symbolizes for Mexicans a pride of pre-Hispanic roots.” The Códice Maya de México will be on view October 18, 2022, through January 15, 2023, at the Getty Center Museum.How much does it cost to get into the National Museum of Anthropology? › What is the largest African museum? ›
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.
|Wikimedia | © OpenStreetMap|
|Founder||V&A Waterfront Jochen Zeitz|