Sunday, February 26, 2017

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

A few weeks ago, Carol, Rachel (plus boyfriend) and I visited the new African American Museum on the Mall with some out of town friends. As usual with a new DC museum, you have to acquire timed tickets well in advance. That's especially true for a long-awaited museum with a unique focus, such as African American history. (On March 1st, the tickets will become available online for June 2017.)

The building itself is incredible, with its distinctive, see-through, lattice structure. There are three underground levels and three above the main floor. The underground floors are chronological; you take an elevator to the bottom floor and work your way up through history. The three floors above the main floor have exhibits on sports, music, theater, movies, politics, and other areas of African American achievement.

The museum is similar to the Holocaust Museum in that much of the history it tells is terrible and filled with inhumane acts. But it also tells the story of a strong, resilient, people who have maintained their humanity despite much horror. Visiting the museum is a powerful experience.

In fact, they thoughtfully include a waterfall room at the end of the chronological tour to give people a chance to settle themselves emotionally. Good call on their part.

Some pictures below.

The ramps that connect the three underground levels

The waterfall room

A view of the Mall.

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