In the Mix

October 5, 2016

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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The National Museum of African American History and Culture. That’s a lot to say, but, if you saw this museum, you might think the title isn’t long enough…

So we got in. And it is ominous. It has the most exhibits I’ve ever seen.

I’ve been to most of the museums in Washington, D.C. and I’ve been to museums across Western Europe and I’ve never seen one quite like this.

Here’s the layout:

There are five floors – you enter on floor two. Guests are encouraged to start on the bottom floor which is the concourse level, leading to the history galleries.

The history galleries tell the African American story beginning with slavery, through segregation and up to today’s changing America.

The entrance level and one level up are for information and exploration. There are classrooms and interactive exhibits to help with the experience. Level two would likely be a researchers paradise…

Then the top two levels are a bomb of pop culture and modern displays of current African American achievement. Music, sports, theater, innovation.

But when you go, don’t expect to see all of this in the same day. We were there for three hours and saw three floors… quickly. To try to see everything in one day is unrealistic and a disservice to the experience.

Even if you got there at 9am and stayed until 9pm, you might have to rush through some of it. Break it up. Take your time. Absorb the experience fully and completely.

I also thought I knew what I would be getting and I got something completely different.

I thought this was a museum for black people. Its not. It’s a museum OF black people, FOR people of other cultures. It’s as if any black person could be a tour guide through the museum for people from other walks of life. That’s the approach and it’s really powerful…

I think the best experience for black people might be to take a friend from another walk of life and watch them go through the experience. The goal should be education. The more you know, the less you fear.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the perfect vehicle to create a dialogue of understanding. You will get the meaning behind, “The Black Experience,” once you visit this museum. GO…