Not since the Holocaust Museum had there been such anticipation for a museum opening in Washington DC. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) did not disappoint and it should definitely be part of your next class trip to Washington with your students.
Our first visit was exhilarating and the Saturday crowd on a beautiful November Fall day created a palpable energy and ‘buzz’ to the museum.
Approaching the building, it was with anticipation of seeing something new as the outside attracts the eye by its shape and texture highlighted by the detached angled ironwork giving it its unique signature on the Mall. The museum website offers this description:
‘From one perspective, the building’s architecture follows classical Greco-Roman form in its use of a base and shaft, topped by a capital or corona. In this case, the corona is inspired by the three-tiered crowns used in Yoruban art from West Africa. Moreover, the building’s main entrance is a welcoming porch, which has architectural roots in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora, especially the American South and Caribbean. Finally, by wrapping the entire building in an ornamental bronze-colored metal lattice, Adjaye the architects pays homage to the intricate ironwork that was crafted by enslaved African Americans in Louisiana, South Carolina, and elsewhere.’
Time lapse video of the construction: https://youtu.be/61NQ_qRmA04
The galleries are vast and expansive and the use of multimedia is effectively used in the galleries. One can easily fall to sensory overload during the first encounter
Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post wrote as part of his review on September 14 2016, -“It offers a state-of-the-art museum experience, full of multimedia displays, spectacularly overscaled objects, and lots of photography, film and recorded sound. But it is not an easy museum to navigate, and the history it tells often feels disconnected and episodic.”
Looking forward to seeing you at the museum in 2017.