January 25, 2017

5 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

During a recent visit to Washington, D.C., the kids and I had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.  The museum is adjacent to the Washington Monument and is definitely worth visiting. 

Photo Credit: Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC
I have visited many of the Smithsonian National Museums and enjoy them all but it wasn't until a recent uproar over an elected official's decision to forego a visit to the museum  that I felt compelled to speak up and share reasons why everyone SHOULD visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

The museum isn't a "Black" museum.  The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture showcases many facets of the African American experience but it isn't a "Black" museum.  The museum is houses the threads of many whose lives are woven into the fabric of the United States. 

1.  It's a Smithsonian. 
This and this alone should be reason enough. There are 19 Smithsonian museums and galleries and the National Zoo.  The group of museums and galleries is open every day of the year except December 25, Christmas Day. 

Many of the iconic symbols of America are housed in the Smithsonian museums.  For example, the ORIGINAL Star Spangled Banner is housed in a Smithsonian museum.  Dorothy's ruby red slippers are housed in a Smithsonian museum.  Several elements of the African American experience are housed in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture like a pair of Air Jordans worn by famed NBA superstar Michael Jordan.
Photo Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Items which resonate with the soul leaving visitors to feel the pain, the joy, the good, the bad of the African American experience.  We really enjoyed sitting down at the Issues on the Table exhibit The Smithsonian houses it all and invites visitors to look, feel, touch, hear and experience for themselves.

2. FREE Admission. 
All Smithsonian museums and galleries offer free admission.  Some museums are a little steep in price and offer a fraction of what the Smithsonian museums and galleries offer.  Besides where else can you view a tambourine played by Prince, a dress made and worn by Rosa Parks, Whitney Houston's American Music Award and Chuck Berry's candy apple red Cadillac and more for FREE
Photo Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Donation of Charles E. Berry
There were several items which caused me to stop, stare and absorb.  Seeing a hymnal that belonged to Harriett Tubman with its weathered pages, a pair of worn, iron shackles and a shawl gifted to Harriett Tubman by Queen Victoria. 

Photo Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, , Gift of Charles L. Blockson
Traffic seemed to slow down near some exhibited items as if the item drew one in with a force beckoning to tell its story.  Items brought life to the remembrances of the cold, dark past and the bright hope of a people's future.

Photo Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, , Gift of Charles L. Blockson
3.  Timed Entry Passes.   
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is fairly new so you can expect it to be a little crowded.  When we visited in December, there was a line that wrapped nearly halfway around the building when we arrived but the lines seemed to move fast. 

As I stated earlier, the museum is fairly new and is pretty crowded.  We were fortunate as our group had immediate entry so we didn't have to wait in the long lines at the museum entrance.  Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture offers timed entry passes.  The passes work kinda like the Disney Fastpass.  You simply visit
https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes to schedule your visit.


4. The Architecture.  The building design is a work of art within itself.  The Smithsonian website states "The three-tiered shape is inspired by the Yoruban Caryatid, a traditional wooden column that features a crown or corona at its top. The pattern of the exterior panels evokes the look of ornate 19th-century ironwork created by enslaved craftsmen in New Orleans and allows daylight to enter through dappled openings. At night, the Corona glows from the light within, presenting a stunning addition to the National Mall." A work of art indeed.

Photo Credit:  Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC
5.  The Experience
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is for everyone.  The museum is centrally located near the iconic Washington Mall, houses some of our nation's most culturally historic treasures, features a delicious cafĂ©, and is home to an awesome gift store. 

Be sure to spend some time browsing the gift store.  Each collection is grouped together and features collectible placards with information about the respective collection.  Your kid will love checking out these neat little cards and will have a "souvenir" of sorts to take and share.  The kids and I collected a slew of cards to share with members of our church.  We really enjoyed listening to older members reflect as they read the cards. 

 

Washington, D.C. is a wonderful place to visit and if you are planning a visit to the Washington Mall, be sure to stop by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.









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