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National Museum of African-American History and Culture captures and revitalizes forgotten history

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 22:32:58-04

The National Museum of African-American History Culture opened in September and every day, thousands are drawn to the newest Smithsonian located on the National Mall.

People from around the country have rushed to the doors since its public opening last week, standing in line for hours and waiting eagerly online for tickets to take a deeper look into African-American history.

I was lucky enough to visit the museum last weekend.

At first glance, the museum’s building appears to embody the shape of an ark with small decorative markings that form into a larger image.

According to the N.M.A.A.H.C website, the architecture design was inspired both by history and by places around the world, with its main entrance designed to mimic “a welcoming porch, which has architectural roots in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora.”

Once inside, after experiencing the “TSA style” security check-in, you’re greeted with tall ceilings, a large gift shop to the right and walls filled with donors that contributed to the space.

As you continue to move in the natural path of the museum, you pass the well-attended information desk before locating the escalators that connect each level to a new experience.

Every floor includes displays that touch on subjects such as segregation, civil rights, entertainment and the impact of African-American contributions to history.

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There are more than 36,000 different artifacts that fill maze-like hallways in every exhibit. Unlike older institutions, the NMAAHC has several interactive elements like the Stepping Challenge. Each participant can take a stab at learning some swift step moves that are used by many Greek-letter organizations at Historically Black Colleges and Universities today.

Out the many things to see, nothing compares to locking eyes with Muhammad Ali’s boxing gear, the shackles of former slaves, Rosa Park’s dress or Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac.

As if observing history in transparent frames wasn’t impactful enough, music from iconic legends and words spoken from history’s largest movements fill your ears.

One voice that leaves visitors with a lasting impression are the somber words of activist Mary McLeod Bethune, who advocated for women's and civil rights, as they explore the corners of “Making a way, Out of No Way” exhibit.

After taking steps through several of the exhibits hallways, you can enjoy a nice break to refuel of food.

Housed on the lower level of the museum, Sweet Home Café showcases traditional African-American food with a modern influence.

Each dish includes a dash of tradition and a pinch of contemporary twists, while “telling the story of the regional offerings.”

Exploring the new Smithsonian is truly breath-taking. Its remarkable beauty is bound by history and is the first museum of its kind to showcases forgotten stories while highlighting African-Americans greatest achievements. 

Standing only a short distance from the National Monument the National Museum of African-American History and Culture continues to thrive in becoming one of the capital’s most visited attraction.

My advice, expect to stand in lines to grasp views of the most-talked about displays, be prepared for surprise galleries and gear up for planning a second trip.

To visit and learn more about the museum click here.

**ABC2 Assignment Editor Jaime Green visited the museum Saturday, Oct. 1

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