It’s unveiling was more than 100 years in the making, and now the seminal moment has arrived, bringing to light a museum unlike any in the Smithsonian’s cadre.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture has undertaken the tall order of tracing 600 years of history and cultural richness—from enslavement through the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and recent events including the Black Lives Matter movement. It incorporates multimedia, sound, and photograph displays, plus over-scaled artifacts, to make history come alive in a more contemporary way.
Packing over half a millennia of artifacts and displays into a museum—particularly when the content elicits emotions as varied as anger, grief, and pride—can be overwhelming and time-consuming, and it’s easy to see how one could take days to peruse the collection. (And, if you come to the opening on Saturday, September 24, you’ll also experience an address by President Obama and a concert from The Root’s Questlove and Public Enemy’s Chuck D.)
We’ve selected a few items and exhibits that will help anyone, regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity, to better understand and appreciate the African-American experience.