After over four years of construction and much anticipation, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will be opening its doors to the public today in Washington D.C. Designed by British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye and Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup (a collective made up of Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates, Davis Brody Bond, and SmithGroupJJR), the NMAAHC is situated on the last remaining space on the National Mall, and stands as a beacon of historical exploration, forward-looking education and sustainability clad in 3,600 bronze-painted aluminum panels inspired by the ironwork of African American slaves.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the United States’ only national museum devoted to exclusively showcasing African American art, history and culture.
Photo: Douglas Remley
Adjaye‘s design adds a striking, three-tiered piece of ornamental architecture to the National Mall. Inspired by Yoruban art from West Africa, where more than half of the 18th century slave trade took place, the building’s form emulates that of the traditional Yoruban wooden caryatid, while the bronzed aluminum panels that clad the structure are informed by the ironwork of African American slaves in 19th century New Orleans. The marriage of these two distinctive cultural influences echoes and supports the museum’s mission.
Photo: Michael Barnes In terms of sustainability, the NMAAHC was designed for LEED Gold certification, and will be partially powered by solar panels.
Spanning 400,000 square feet, the building’s exhibitions currently feature about 3,500 artifacts–ranging from a former slave’s two story house to Chuck Berry’s convertible–organized into three sections: “Slavery and Freedom”, “The Era of Segregation”, and “1968 and Beyond”. There is also a theater and gallery space for special exhibitions and additional programming.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens on Saturday, September 24, 2016. President Obama is expected to speak at the museum’s opening ceremony.
Photos: Darren Bradley, Michael Barnes, Douglas Remley, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture