Thirteen years in the making, the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is just a few days away from its massive public launch on September 24 (complete with a three-day festival featuring a badass musical lineup).
On our visit yesterday (September 14) as part of a media preview of the museum, construction was still underway to prep for opening day. Workers wired lighting and hung artifacts, curators spoke to microphone-wielding reporters near label-less installations marked off by yellow tape and an entire floor was still closed.
Still, the ongoing work did not outweigh the emotional impact the museum seeks to inspire in visitors. Those who experience the exhibits as the museum intends first descend three floors into a subterranean section, using ramps to navigate upward through a series of exhibits that explore African-American oppression and resilience and triumph from slavery to the present. The top four floors feature exhibits that highlight Black America’s contributions to sports, art and pop culture. All of the exhibits are comprehensive in scope and jaw-dropping in emotional intensity, whether channeling catharsis or joy.
While you’ll have to experience the museum yourself to understand the full scope, these ten photos from the museum will get you started.
For more photos and video from the NMAAHC, including our video interviews with visual arts curator Tuliza Fleming and Sweet Home Cafe executive chef Jerome Grant, check out yesterday’s posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.