Filling the last prominent spot on the National Mall—just east of the Washington Monument—the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has already proven itself a striking addition to the tapestry of monumental architecture at the heart of nation’s capital.
Set to pen September 24, the exterior of the building is complete with 3,600 bronze-painted aluminum panels covering the museum’s three-tiered structure. The panels reference the intricate cast iron designs that African American slaves produced across the American South. The building’s “three-tiered crowns” were inspired by Yoruban art from West Africa, a region where many of the United State’s slaves were taken into bondage. The building extends four stories underground; and visitors can start at the lowest level to learn about the era of ”Slavery and Freedom,” advancing upwards to the “Era of Segregation,” “1968 and Beyond,” and finally a special exhibitions gallery, theater, and other programming. Notable artifacts range from Nat Turner’s Bible to Chuck Berry’s convertible and a former slave’s two story house built during the Reconstruction Era. Upper floors feature education facilities, staff offices, and multiple galleries.
The museum will open with extended visiting hours and a three-day festival showcasing films, popular music, dance and other attractions. Museums around the country and in Africa also plan to host accompanying events at their locations as a welcoming salute.
Admission to Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo are free.