Among the many Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Opened in 2016 in a ceremony led by Barack Obama, the site features over 37,000 objects related to civil rights, segregation, slavery, and African-American culture and community.
Ambitions to build a museum of African-American history go back as far as 1915, but met with resistance. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover created a commission with the intent of constructing a “National Memorial Building” that would feature African-American achievements, but it was not supported by Congress. This trend would continue for the next forty years. Another bill for constructing a Smithsonian museum dedicated to African-American history was introduced by Rep. John R. Lewis in 1988, but was again opposed by Congress.
Finally, after legislation was re-introduced by Lewis in 2001, President George W. Bush appointed a commissioner to study the feasibility of building such a museum in the Smithsonian. After some debate, Bush endorsed building the museum on the National Mall, and the location was officially sited in 2006.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the NMAAHC took place on February 22 of 2012. The museum opened on September 24, 2016, with a week of special events and extended hours to account for its many visitors.
Questions of cost nearly killed the construction of the NMAAHC in Congress over and over again. Since its groundbreaking, the museum has since received millions in donations from Oprah Winfrey, Google, The GM Foundation, Microsoft, LeBron James, and more.
Visiting the Museum
NMAAHC’s collection includes many notable and important items — over 37,000 items are in the museum’s collection, with approximately 3,500 of these on display to the public. These include household items and utensils owned by Harriet Tubman, a trumpet owned by Louis Armstrong, a “Mothership” prop created by George Clinton, the dress sewed by Rosa Parks the day she took her historic bus ride in Alabama, and many more. The museum has also partnered with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the National Museum of American History to unveil exhibits on the history of American slavery at Monticello.
The museum’s website, the first such website to become available on the Web before the physical locale opened, features extensive resources for exploring and browsing NMAAHC’s collection.
Because of the high volume of visitors to the museum — over 750,000 since its opening — the National Museum of African-American History & Culture has specific requirements for visitation.
While there are a limited amount of walk-up visitors allowed during the week, there are no walk-ups allowed during the weekends. Visitors must have timed passes, which are available same-day and can be purchased online or at the museum. These times passes are only good for the hours for which they are purchased.
The NMAAHC also recommends downloading and using its mobile app to enhance the museum experience.
While it is possible to drive to the museum, the NMAAHC strongly encourages you to take other forms of transit. Metropolitan Shuttle is here to make your trip to the NMAAHC safe, fast, comfortable, and easy. Whether you need a smaller shuttle van or a full coach bus for a large group, Metropolitan Shuttle has you covered.
Interested in booking a trip to the NMAAHC? New timed passes are coming out in May! Call or contact us for a quote and let’s get started!