The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, but it took decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

Artifacts and Exhibits

To date, the $540-million museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become members. Some highlights of artifacts include Harriet Tubman’s hymnal; Nat Turner’s bible; a plantation cabin from South Carolina; Guard tower from Angola Prison; Michael Jackson’s fedora; and works by prolific artists such as Charles Alston, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and Henry O. Tanner. In addition, there are historic displays and artifacts depicting the African American’s struggles and triumphs are exhibits that spotlight the significant black presence in the military, sports, arts, music and the entertainment industry.

The Building is a Spectacular Work of Art

The 350,000-square-foot, 10-story building (five above and five below ground) was designed by the architectural team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group JJR, and lead designer, Tanzanian-born David Adjaye. Their vision was to envelope the African American’s journey the past, present and future from its exterior to the carefully designed interior exhibit-halls. During the day, the sun strikes the exterior of the building like a flame. The decorative metal frame moderates sunlight into the interior while preserving unrivaled panoramas of the surrounding landscape and monuments. At night, the building glows and is often used as a canvas for digital projection of images of historical African American icons and history makers.

Cultural Dining Experience

A 400-seat cafeteria-style restaurant, Sweet Home Cafe is amazing and has become a destination in its own right. Food and cuisine also tell the story of a people’s culture and history. The museum’s restaurant uses culinary delights to reveal the culture and heritage of African Americans.

Meals served by the café celebrates the diversity in African American cuisine and cooking. Dishes are represented from four regions: the Creole Coast, the North States, Southern States and the Western Range. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a place where all Americans can witness and learn about the richness and diversity of American history. It is a very popular attraction so be sure to plan your visit to the museum and order time-entry passes ahead of your visit.

For more information on the museum, visit the NMAAHC website here.

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