It's been seven years since the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture opened on the National Mall. But in that relatively short lifetime for a museum, a stunning number of visitors have stopped by.On 9/30/23 the NMAAHC welcomed the 10 millionth visitor through its doors.
Monday, October 02, 2023
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Michelle Commander Named Deputy Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has announced the selection of its deputy director, Michelle Commander. Commander brings a plethora of experience, leadership and knowledge to the position, most recently working as the deputy director of research and strategic initiatives at The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Prior to that appointment, Commander served as the Schomburg Center’s associate director and curator of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery.
“With her wide-ranging work on global slavery, West Africa, and Afrofuturism, Michelle is deeply anchored in history with an understanding of how historic collections intersect with our contemporary world,” said Kevin Young, Andrew W. Mellon Director of the museum. “She has a demonstrated record of embracing innovation to expand a museum’s reach to various communities.”
As the deputy director for the largest national museum of African American history and culture, Commander will support work on the current Living History campaign and expanding technologies, building upon the museum’s goal to reach every corner of the digital world. She will also be responsible for assisting and collaborating in the overall planning, development and management of the museum’s activities while leading the offices of Education and Publications. Commander will develop partnerships and cultivate an environment of learning and engagement across the Smithsonian museums.
The deputy director is an essential position at NMAAHC, where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience—what it means to their lives, and how it has shaped this nation. In addition to in-person visitors and programs, the museum’s digital initiatives have reached 21 million virtual visitors, illuminating the past and connecting history to the issues of today.
Commander received her doctorate and Master of Arts in American studies and ethnicity from the University of Southern California, Master of Science in curriculum and instruction from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Charleston Southern University. She is a recipient of research fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Fulbright Scholar Program. Commander is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society. For eight years, Commander served in the Department of English and Program in Africana Studies at the University of Tennessee, earning the rank of associate professor before joining the Schomburg Center. She is also consulting curator for the recent Afrofuturism period room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Before Yesterday We Could Fly.” Her books include Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic (Duke University Press, 2017) and Avidly Reads: Passages (NYU Press, 2021). She is the editor of the anthology Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition (Penguin, 2021).
Commander is succeeding the outgoing deputy director, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, who retired in December 2022 after almost two decades of service to NMAAHC. During her time at the museum, Holman Conwill built powerful collaborations to help expand the museum’s collections, foster external partnerships and develop exhibitions and programs.
Sunday, November 20, 2022
Friday, November 11, 2022
Chadwick Boseman Black Panther costume to be part of NMAAHC exhibition, "Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures."
On March 24, 2023, the National Museum of African American History and Culture museum will debut a major, thought-provoking exhibition, "Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures."
Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures explores the past, present, and future of this dynamic concept in an exhibition that features the various people, unique themes and radical artistry that have given voice to it.
One of the highlights of this new exhibition will be the Black Panther hero costume worn by the late Chadwick Boseman.
Sunday, October 30, 2022
The Empire State Archives and History Award acknowledges the outstanding contributions by a national figure to advance the understanding and uses of history in society.
This year the The New York State Archives Partnership Trust has chosen Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director for the National Museum of African American History and Culture as it's 2022 honoree.
Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian. He assumed his position June 16, 2019. As Secretary, he oversees 21 museums, including two new museums in development—the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers.
Previously, Bunch was the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. When he started as director in July 2005, he had one staff member, no collections, no funding and no site for a museum. Driven by optimism, determination and a commitment to build “a place that would make America better,” Bunch transformed a vision into a bold reality. The museum has welcomed more than 6 million visitors since it opened in September 2016 and compiled a collection of 40,000 objects that are housed in the first “green building” on the National Mall. In 2019, the creation of the museum became the first Smithsonian effort to be the topic of a Harvard Business Review case study.
Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument, the nearly 400,000-square-foot National Museum of African American History and Culture is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history.
Before his appointment as director of the museum, Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society (2001–2005). There, he led a successful capital campaign to transform the Historical Society in celebration of its 150th anniversary, managed an institutional reorganization, initiated an unprecedented outreach initiative to diverse communities and launched a much-lauded exhibition and program on teenage life titled “Teen Chicago.”
A widely published author, Bunch has written on topics ranging from the black military experience, the American presidency and African American history in California, diversity in museum management and the impact of funding and politics on American museums. His most recent book, A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump, chronicles the making of the museum that would become one of the most popular destinations in Washington.
Bunch served as the curator of history and program manager for the California African American Museum in Los Angeles from 1983 to 1989. While there, he organized several award-winning exhibitions, including “The Black Olympians, 1904–1950” and “Black Angelenos: The Afro-American in Los Angeles, 1850–1950.” He also produced several historical documentaries for public television.
Born in Belleville, New Jersey, Bunch has held numerous teaching positions at universities across the country, including American University in Washington, D.C., the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
In service to the historical and cultural community, Bunch has served on the advisory boards of the American Association of Museums and the American Association for State and Local History. In 2005, Bunch was named one of the 100 most influential museum professionals of the 20th century by the American Alliance of Museums (formerly known as the American Association of Museums).
Among his many awards, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House in 2002 and reappointed by President Barack Obama in 2010. In 2019, he was awarded the Freedom Medal, one of the Four Freedom Awards from the Roosevelt Institute, for his contribution to American culture as a historian and storyteller; the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from the Hutchins Center at Harvard University; and the National Equal Justice Award from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.
In 2020, he was given the Dan David Prize from Tel Aviv University. In 2021, the Society of American Historians awarded Bunch the Tony Horwitz Prize honoring distinguished work in American history of wide appeal and enduring public significance. In 2020, he was given the Dan David Prize from Tel Aviv University. In 2021, Bunch received France’s highest award, The Legion of Honor.
Bunch received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the American University in Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, October 05, 2022
Sunday, April 10, 2022
The National Museum of African American History and Culture presents the next page from Our American Story
Friday, January 14, 2022
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday by displaying the slain civil rights leader’s original speech from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The speech will be on display in the “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom” gallery from Thursday to Feb. 27.
The case with the speech inside, initially on display at the museum in fall 2021, will be reinstalled in time for visitors to see the document before the holiday.
In addition, the museum will be open to the public for normal operating hours (10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.), with advanced and same-day free timed entry passes available online. No walk-ups will be allowed.
The speech was originally possessed by basketball coach George Raveling, who got it while volunteering at the 1963 march. Recently, Villanova University gained stewardship and has entered into a long-term loan agreement with the museum to display it.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
The Smithsonian Institution announced Friday that about half of its museums, along with the National Zoo, will reopen in May after shuttering in November because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is slated to re-open on May 14, 2021. Passes will be available starting May 7th.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) recently announced that the city will ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions on May 1. At that time, museums will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Thursday, October 01, 2020
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has a new president.
On Tuesday, the museum announced that Kevin Young, the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, will take over for Lonnie Bunch III (the museum’s founding director from 2005 to 2019), who is now the Secretary of the Smithsonian.
The leadership change will take effect Jan. 11, the museum said.
Young, an author, a poet, and an editor, led the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (2016-2020) as the institution acquired the manuscript of Alex Haley’s “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” including a once-lost chapter, and the Harlem-based archives of Harry Belafonte and James Baldwin.
Before Young took the helm at the Schomburg Center, he was a professor at Emory University. He was also the curator of the university’s Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, a 75,000-volume collection of rare and modern poetry, and curator of literary collections.
“I look forward to directing the National Museum of African American History and Culture in this next phase of leadership, after its founding, opening and dynamic exhibitions and events,” said Young in a museum press release. “Having visited the museum myself with my family, I know what a powerful place it is, transforming visitors both in-person and online, and revealing the centrality of African American culture to the American experience. I am eager to engage further directions in the museum’s mission, embracing our digital present and future while furthering conversations around Black history, art, liberation, and joy.”
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
On Friday, September 18, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will reopen to the public.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture will begin a gradual, phased reopening for the Museum. The museum will be putting safety first with new measures in place to protect everyone’s health. Free, timed-entry passes will be required for entry. Please review the important information below as you plan your visit.
Learn more about the NMAAHC reopening here: Welcome Back
Saturday, August 01, 2020
Last month, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) launched “Voices Of Resistance And Hope,” a web portal where members of Black communities can share their experiences of life during the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
From the NMAAHC web page:
Voices Of Resistance And Hope
Sharing Stories In Times Of Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic and the mass protest movement for police reforms and social justice are affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. We want to know how these issues have affected you.
You are invited to be part of this online collection of personal stories from members of the African American community during the current crises in America. Upload your images, first-hand accounts, personal stories, essays, poems, photographs, short videos or observations. Your personal expressions can help to create shared experiences with others in the nation and reinforce what so many of us are longing for during these turbulent times — an opportunity to celebrate the American values of resiliency, optimism, and spirituality.
You can find out more about Voices of Resistance and Hope or share your story here: Voices Of Resistance And Hope
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Friday, March 13, 2020
The following is a statement from the National Museum of African American History and Culture:
As a public health precaution due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), the National Museum of African American History and Culture will temporarily close to the public starting Saturday, March 14.
We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all our visitors, employees, and volunteers. We are in close communication with local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, we are not announcing a re-opening date at this time.
We will provide updates on a week-to-week basis via our website. Follow @NMAAHC on Twitter for updates about the museum's operating status. In the meantime, we invite you to visit NMAAHC.si.edu to explore our virtual exhibitions, online collections and educational resources.
Monday, January 27, 2020
Walmart donates $5 Million to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
BENTONVILLE, Ark., Jan. 27, 2020 — Walmart announced today a $5 million grant to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. Walmart’s support of NMAAHC is a part of the company’s continued commitment to advance causes that promote diversity and inclusion.
“The National Museum of African American History & Culture is a vital institution, deepening everyone’s understanding of our nation’s history through the lens of the African American experience,” said Julie Gehrki, vice president of philanthropy at Walmart. “Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have a long history of supporting diversity and inclusion, and we are pleased to support the museum as they continue to build out programs to advance their mission.”
This grant is the second donation Walmart has made to support the museum’s initiatives, with the first $5 million donated in 2010 to support the design and construction of the facility. The second investment will benefit the visitor services programs, corporate leadership council and other areas including collections and acquisitions, scholarship and research, education and public programs, exhibitions and emerging technologies.
Since opening in 2016, NMAAHC, the 19th Smithsonian Institution Museum, has welcomed more than 7 million visitors who have explored the exhibits and more than 3,000 artifacts on display. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture, and is a public institution open to all, where anyone is welcome to participate, collaborate, and learn more about African American history and culture. Later today, Walmart will host a private event to celebrate the museum’s contributions and acknowledge the critical role the Congressional Black Caucus played in helping to make the museum a reality.
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation seek to transform systems to help create more equitable opportunities for all. Specifically, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation invest in work to diversify talent pipelines, build more inclusive small business ownership and enhance community cohesion. Most recently, Walmart funded a report published by FSG, which outlines steps employers can take to remove barriers to advancement of frontline employees of color.
For more information on Walmart’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and philanthropy, please visit Walmart.org.
Friday, January 17, 2020
Although NBA star Stephen Curry is sidelined with an injury, Under Armour continues to release fresh colorways of his latest signature shoe, the Curry 7. The latest look is inspired by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., arriving just in time for Black History Month.
The limited-edition Under Armour Curry 7 “Our History,” according to the brand, was inspired by the Golden State Warriors’ trip to the museum in February 2018 as well as Curry’s fascination with the venue, which was designed by architect David Adjaye. Under Armour said the brand and the baller reflected on the trip when coming up with the design and concept behind the BHM shoe.
The Curry 7 “Our History” shoe features tiers of brown, olive and bronze (as well as hits of neon green), which is reminiscent of the museum’s three-tiered exterior. Further diving into the theme, Under Armour placed the museum’s longitude and latitude coordinates on the heel tab.
The Under Armour Curry 7 “Our History” arrives Jan. 20 on UA.com and at UA Brand Houses and select retailers, and it will retail for $140. Ahead of the release, a limited number of pairs will drop on Jan. 18 on the SC30 product wall at the Chase Center Warriors Shop at Thrive City in San Francisco.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
No Passes Required and Extended Holiday Hours For National Museum of African American History & Culture
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will welcome visitors for no-pass entry and extended hours next Thursday, Dec. 26 through Monday, Dec. 30.
Starting on Dec. 26, the museum will be open 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Individuals will be able to enter the museum without a pass on Dec. 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30. Groups of 10 or more require a pass every day. Regular visitation procedures will resume Dec. 31. The museum’s full visitation policies are found at nmaahc.si.edu/visit.