One of the most important Black History museums is the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). It is a museum operated by the Smithsonian Institution that can be found on the National Mall in Washington, District of Columbia, in the United States. It started running in December 2003, and President Barack Obama led the opening ceremony in September 2016 when it opened to the public for the first time.
Black History Museum: NMAAHC: The Beginning
The first efforts to create a museum emphasizing African American history and culture were made in 1915. However, the modern push for such an organization did not begin until the 1970s. The museum would be controlled by the federal government and display African-American history and culture.
After several years of legislative efforts that were met with little success, in 1988 a far more serious drive began, which eventually resulted in the museum’s permission in 2003. In 2006 we saw the selection of a location, and in 2009 we saw the winning design, which had been presented by Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates, and Davis Brody Bond. 2012 marked the beginning of construction, and 2016 marked the year the museum opened to the public.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is the largest museum in the world devoted to the history and culture of African Americans.
During its first full year of operation, it was the fourth most visited Smithsonian museum, placing it in fourth place overall. Although the museum has more than 40,000 objects in its collection, only roughly 3,500 of those objects are on show at any given time. The 350,000-square-foot (33,000-square-metre), 10-story facility, which has five stories above ground and five stories below ground, as well as its exhibitions, have garnered positive reviews.
Construction Of The Museum Building
On February 22, 2012, there was a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on the museum. The ceremony featured a number of speakers, including President Barack Obama and the director of the museum, Bunch. At the ceremony, actress Phylicia Rashad served as the Master of Ceremonies. Denyce Graves, Thomas Hampson, and the Heritage Signature Chorale gave performances of poetry and music, respectively.
The museum was constructed by Clark Construction Group, Smoot Construction, and H.J. Russell & Company, who were awarded the contract. The architectural firm of McKissack & McKissack, which was the first African American-owned architectural firm in the United States, provided project management services to the Smithsonian and acted as a liaison between the Smithsonian and public utilities and government agencies in the District of Columbia. In addition, McKissack & McKissack was the first architectural firm in the United States to be named after an African American. Its technical experts for the project came from the firms Guy Nordenson & Associates and Robert Silman Associates.
The NAAMHC is now the museum on the National Mall that occupies the most space. In order to establish the foundations, excavators dug down to a depth of 80 feet (24 meters), despite the fact that the building itself will be just 70 feet (21 meters) deep. Because of its location at a low spot on the Mall, the museum is subject to groundwater pressure that averages 27.78 pounds per square inch (191.5 kilograms per square meter). During the building of the foundation and below-grade walls, a slurry of cement and sand was injected into forms in order to stabilize the site. This was done to compensate for the amount of water that was being pumped out at the rate of 85 US gallons (320 L) per minute. During the building process, lasers were used to keep a constant watch on the walls for any signs of bulging or movement.
Why Is The African American Museum Laid Out In That Particular Fashion?
The Yoruban Caryatid, which is a traditional wooden column that includes a crown or corona at its summit, served as the basis for the design of the three-tiered configuration. The design of the external panels is meant to replicate the appearance of beautiful ironwork from the 19th century that was crafted in New Orleans by enslaved craftsmen. It also allows sunshine to penetrate the building through dappled openings.
Who Constructed the NAAMHC?
- David Adjaye
- Phil Freelon
- Zena Howard
- J. Max Bond Jr.
Best Black History Museums in the US
There are many museums devoted to the study of African American history and culture located all around the United States of America. Museums play a significant role in the process of detailing and remembering historic eras, leaders, and injustices that have shaped the experience of black people over the course of the last five centuries. These museums range from highly sponsored national institutions to volunteer-aided communal initiatives.
The enduring legacy of slavery, the cruel and persistent anti-Black system of Jim Crow in the Southern States, and the history of the Civil Rights Movement are all topics that are covered in a number of well-known museums. But there are also areas that are devoted to heroes who are less well known, such as sporting pioneers, iconic musicians, and the art and culture of African Americans.
In 1868, the city of Hampton, Virginia became home to the Collage Museum, which holds the distinction of being the first African American museum in the United States. There are currently 109 museums of this type located all around the country. You will find a list of notable black history and civil rights museums below.
1. National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee:
“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” Martin Luther King Jr., a prominent advocate for civil rights, was gunned down at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, the morning after delivering the famous “Promised Land” address he had given the night before. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination sent shockwaves around the world, but rather than breaking activists’ will, it galvanized Black Americans to continue their fight for freedom. The Civil Rights Museum can be found in close proximity to the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot and killed.
The museum’s exhibitions highlight the Black American experience, beginning with the institution of slavery and continuing through life under Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. These exhibits include hundreds of objects, movies, and oral histories from African Americans.
Visitors can relive what Rosa Parks, the leader of the Montgomery bus boycott, went through by getting on a bus and sitting at the same lunch counter where Greensboro students held sit-ins in 1960.
2. Whitney Plantation, Wallace, Louisiana
Black History Museum: “The history of this country is rooted in slavery. If you don’t understand the source of the problem, how can you solve it?” The institution of slavery as well as the plantation system stained the history of Louisiana. John Cummings, a white retired lawyer, thinks that both Louisiana and the rest of the U.S. haven’t made a lot of progress in reconciling their different histories.
Upon arrival, each visitor is given a card that has the name and backstory of a person who was enslaved at the hotel. Visitors are guided on tours of the actual grounds on which African slaves worked in the sweltering heat of the South throughout the 18th and 19th centuries in order to cultivate sugar cane and rice. An emotional and profoundly enlightening tour takes visitors to numerous poignant memorials, as well as the original slave huts and the Big House.
3. The Legacy Museum: Black History Museum
From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration / The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery, Alabama. “Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape. This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.”
During the middle of the 19th century, Montgomery served as a major center for the slave trade in the state of Alabama, which at the time was one of the most deeply rooted slave-owning regions in the United States. In 2018, the Equal Justice Action plan opened the doors to The Legacy Museum, which was constructed on the site of a former slave warehouse and is just a short walk from what was once one of the busiest slave auction houses in America. The auction house was located directly across the street from the museum.
It traces the history of slavery, lynching, segregation, and civil rights, while also emphasizing a legacy of economic and criminal injustices for Black communities. From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration is an unvarnished retrospective of the black experience in the United States.
The museum provides an insight into the systemic inequalities suffered by the black community throughout history by way of digitalization of first-hand accounts, videos, artworks, and interactive exhibits. The museum has a lot to say about mass incarceration and the Black Lives Matter movement that is going on right now.
Black History Museum Conclusion
Black History Museums chronicle social and political events, such as Reconstruction and the labor, women’s rights, civil rights, and Black Power movements, which help to rehabilitate public memory. Black Lives Matter and Black Power movements are also covered.