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National Museum of African American History and Culture

Logo, National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) invites visitors to explore American identity through the lens of African American experiences. Its collections will focus on African American history and culture throughout the U.S., including U.S. connections to other cultures and nations.

The museum broke ground on February 22, 2012. Until the completion of the building, visitors can tour NMAAHC exhibits at the neighboring Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Exhibits have featured the lives of Thomas Jefferson's slaves, Harlem's Apollo Theater, DC black culture and the Scurlock Studio, African American portraits, and more.

Online resources are currently sparse, but expect to see them expand as the museum's collection grows and its physical presence opens to the public. Check out current and past exhibit listings for online versions. Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty includes essays and primary sources on enslaved life at Monticello, and For All the World to See looks at how visual culture (TV, magazines, and more) changed and reinforced images of African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement.

The museum blog updates regularly with reviews of books for children and adults, reflections on historical topics, and interviews on artifacts and exhibits. DC area educators can attend free professional development events and arrange for free in-school object-based, standards-aligned outreach for grades 4–6. (Educators outside of Washington, DC, can keep an eye open for online professional development opportunities such as this conference on teaching the Civil Rights Movement with Smithsonian collections.)

For a sense of the museum's focus on connecting past and present and preserving individual stories, see the museum's YouTube channel and StoryCorp initiative. Both share oral histories and personal stories from the past.