The National Museum of African American History and Culture was created in 2003 by an Act of Congress, establishing it as part of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture. The museum opened Sept. 24, 2016, and is located between the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
The museum is building a collection designed to illustrate the major periods of African American history, beginning with the origins in Africa and continuing through slavery, reconstruction, the civil rights era, the Harlem Renaissance and into the 21st century.
Highlights include the following:
- Harriet Tubman collection, including her hymnal (c. 1876); lace shawl (c. 1897), given to her by Queen Victoria; and family photographs from her funeral
- Jim Crow Railroad car (c. 1920)
- Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac convertible (c. 1973)
- Black Fashion Museum Collection (approximately 1,000 items)
- Tuskegee Airmen Trainer Plane, an open-cockpit PT-13 Stearman (c. 1942), used to prepare Tuskegee Airmen for World War II combat duty
- Works of art by Charles Alston, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Lorna Simpson, Romare Bearden, Archibald John Motley Jr., Henry O. Tanner and Frederick C. Flemister
- Emmett Till’s casket (c. 1955)—the glass-topped coffin that held the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till whose murder in Mississippi helped galvanize the civil rights movement
- Slave cabin from Edisto Island, S.C. (c. 1800–1850)
No food and drink is allowed in the Museum. Bottled water is permitted. You may consume food and drinks in the Sweet Home Café, but not in other areas of the Museum. Groups who bring food are encouraged to picnic on the National Mall. Bag lunch facilities are not available in the Museum.
For more, visit nmaahc.si.edu.
National Museum of African American History and Culture (Smithsonian)
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily; closed Christmas Day.
Admission: Free. Timed passes are necessary to enter the Museum. Please visit nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes for more information on obtaining advanced and same-day timed passes.
Parking: There are no Smithsonian Institution public parking facilities on the National Mall. A few nearby commercial lots and garages may have available parking.
Metrorail: Orange and Blue Line stops for Smithsonian or Federal Triangle.
*Photo courtesy of Douglas Remley (Smithsonian)