Crusader staff report
It’s been one year since the Smithsonian’s African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C. opened with five massive floors of breathtaking exhibits that wowed millions of visitors and shattered attendance records after months of hype and anticipation.
Now, the museum that took decades to plan and build, is surpassing some of Washington’s most iconic landmarks in popularity, according to the popular website Tripadvisor.com.
According to the website, the Black museum is ranked 16th on the list of 450 things to do in Washington D.C. The ranking is higher than the Washington Monument (No. 20), the U.S. Capitol building (#21), the historic Ford’s Theater (No. 22) and the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts (No. 27). The museum is now within striking distance of the Jefferson Memorial (No. 12) and the National Mall (No. 11). Interestingly, the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial is No. 15, one notch higher than the Black museum. The Lincoln Memorial is No.1.
The Black museum has become an essential stop for out-of-town tourists and attracts a diverse, engaged, multicultural and international audience. Rognlois, a tourist from Seville, Spain, gave the museum five stars, the highest rating on TripAdvisor.
Wow what a great museum!!!,” his review reads. “So much to see and appreciate…you will come away with a new perspective. The Smithsonian knows how to “museum” and this is a great example. The building, exhibits, and staff are top notch.”
Another reviewer, Anne L. Rooney from Chicago, also gave it five stars, calling the Black museum “A National Treasure!”
“It was so worth it!,” Rooney writes. “The collection is absolutely stunning, so powerful and moving. Favorite exhibits were Harriet Tubman and the Abolitionists, Rosa Parks, 1960s civil rights leaders such as the Freedom Riders. Every American should see this.”
The Washington Post said the museum “has changed the center of gravity on the Mall, drawing crowds to its symbolic nodal point, where the Washington Monument connects the White House and Jefferson Memorial to the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial. There is an energy along 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW that feels new, and welcome, in the city.”
For Black America, the museum became an instant symbol of pride after the nation’s first Black president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle held a spectacular dedication that was broadcast live and show in local Black museums across the country. Since its opening, the Black museums has been the centerpiece of Black families while busloads of Black churches flock to learn of the rich history and contributions to America by people of color.
In its inaugural year, the museum has welcomed nearly three million visitors through its doors, increased the number of items in its permanent collection to nearly 40,000 and hosted 46 public programs to help visitors understand historic and contemporary issues. To commemorate the first anniversary, the museum held two Community Day celebrations outside on the museum’s grounds with free activities that engaged the public and encouraged the community to join the #VisitorVoices social media campaign. The museum’s hours was extended to 7:30 p.m. for the two days, Sept. 23–24.
“We are so grateful to America for making this first year unprecedentedly successful,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the museum. “This first anniversary gives us at the Smithsonian the opportunity to thank everyone for this incredible gift and for making it possible to continue our mission to help America grapple with history by seeing their past through an African American lens – and ultimately help Americans find healing and reconciliation.”