The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a Smithsonian Institution museum established in December 2003. The museum’s building, designed by David Adjaye, is on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

I finally was able to visit the museum this week, after getting timed passes some months ago. It is a beautiful museum but be ready to spend a full day as the size of the structure above ground is misleading. The museum is divided in two areas: three floors underground dedicated to the history and three floors above ground dedicated to the culture. The history galleries are stunning and cover everything from slavery to Obama’s term as president. I will warn you, they are brutally honest, so the experience is at times heartbreaking and demoralizing. The culture galleries are chock full of items from our lives and cover food, fashion, design, music, television, theater and films.

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© Roberto Cruz Niemiec

It should have been no surprise to see so many items that remind me of home. From the Puerto RIcan flag to the smallest of things like a plate of rice and beans, a staple of our diet. So much of Caribbean culture is a result of the African culture kept alive by slaves.

The building is very well designed and serves its function but it honestly plays second fiddle to the treasures and stories that it houses. The most beautiful element of the design, the three-tier bronzed aluminum skin, has little to do with the rest of the building but it does make the structure unmistakable in the limestone sea that is the Mall. If you are coming to DC in the near future be sure to get tickets, its well worth a visit (or many visits, already planning going again.)

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© Roberto Cruz Niemiec

Images by rcruzniemiec aka archatlas

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