The city of Washington, D.C. is about to get a dramatic and absolutely essential new landmark, an addition to its artistic and cultural scene that has stirred up a lot of anticipation and excitement. On Saturday, Sept. 24, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will open its doors to the public, presenting one of the largest and most evocative collections documenting the black experience in America ever assembled. If this sounds up your alley, then you'd probably like a peek: Here are 16 photos from the National Museum Of African American History and Culture opening ceremony.
Luckily, there are many images that have already been captured from inside this latest Smithsonian institution, showing off some bits and pieces of the huge new collection. It reportedly includes around 40,000 items in total, which means for a full glimpse, you really will have to set aside some time and make the trip for yourself.
Also, it goes without saying that not all of the history detailed within is pleasant or rosy, owing to the often abhorrent ways the United States has treated its African-American population, from the original sin of slavery to Jim Crow, clear through to the personal and institutional forms of racism that persist to this day. Here are some compelling scenes from the museum, both inside and out:
It's a real triumph that the museum is finally opening, because this has been a hard-fought project that people have been striving for over the course of a very long time. As NPR noted in previewing the opening, the museum was first proposed back in 1915, just over a century ago, by black veterans of the American Civil War. The intervening 101 years were an exercise in constant setbacks, lack of popular support, lack of funding, you name it. But in 2003 the U.S. Congress finally passed a bill on the matter, setting forth that the new museum be added to the Smithsonian's many institutions.
If you happen to be in D.C. in the months or years to come, this is as crucial a destination to visit as any you'll find. African-American history finally getting this level of recognition and documentation in our nation's capitol is something that's been long overdue, so do yourself a favor and check it out.