National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Photos and text by Kim Hairston

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opens Saturday on the National Mall. The bronze-hued, metal-latticed structure stands in contrast to the marble and stone of its neighbors. Inside there are 37,000 artifacts and numerous video and audio displays with sixty percent of the 400,000 square-foot museum located underground.

In the September Smithsonian Magazine, Lonnie Bunch, director of NMAAHC , writes “The defining experience of African–American life has been the necessity of making a way out of no way, of mustering the nimbleness, ingenuity and perseverance to establish a place in this society. That effort, over the centuries, has shaped this nation’s history so profoundly that, in many ways, African-American history is the quintessential American history. Most of the moments where American liberty has been expanded have been tied to the African-American experience. If you’re interested in American notions of freedom, if you’re interested in the broadening of fairness, opportunity and citizenship, then regardless of who you are, this is your story, too.”