Last weekend, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) had a private opening ceremony in Washington, D.C. and debuted what the public can expect at the highly anticipated museum. The $540 million museum is set to open on this Saturday, September 24th, and it could not have arrived at a better time. With the twin missions embodied in its name, history and culture seem to speak directly to the series of events that have occurred in 2016 and the years past. The #BlackLivesMatter movement spearheaded the constant struggle for equality among African Americans, helping to make the museum’s history section so current. Even with all the Black excellence in Hollywood, there is still an outcry for proper representation in television, film and entertainment as a whole.
“Every generation thinks we know the story, we’ve grown past it, we’re integrated, we’re done, and then a decade later there is memory loss. We go back to stigmatizing and dividing. In the 18th and 19th century, museums were about understanding the world. Now [that] we understand the world, we have to understand each other” said David Adjaye, the museum’s lead designer in an interview with Curbed. The NMAAHC was designed by Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup JJR, a collaborative effort between a team of firms who were awarded this project back in 2009 by the Smithsonian. The firms set out to separate the history and the culture while exhibiting both the inspirations and the pains that has surrounded the African American identity.
In total, the NMAAHC cost a little over half a billion dollars to design ($540 Million), and is 400,000 square feet. It is 60 percent underground, five of the floors being above-ground. The remaining floors are in a below section marked from 0 to 3. On opening day, there will be 12 exhibitions on display which will focus on history, community and culture. The building also includes a theater named after Oprah Winfrey which will seat up to 350 people. It is estimated that the museum has over 3,000 artifacts on display, such as the helmet Muhammad Ali wore in his 1969 Olympic gold win, as well as iconic vintage hats from Mae Reeves’ “Mae’s Millinery”. Admission is free but due to high interest, timed-entry passes will be needed.