My First Visit to the NMAAHC!

I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT!!!  I had my first visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture today and I was absolutely floored!  For those of you who have not gone yet, PLEASE make sure you get a chance to go because the experience is unlike any other you will ever have in another type of museum.  Honestly, I knew it would be a good experience but I didn't realize just HOW good it would be until I actually went.  

There are 6 levels of the museum.  Starting from the top going down, there is L4, L3, L2, C1, C2, and C3.  The "L" levels are the above ground levels.  L4 is the Culture Galleries level, L3 is the Community Galleries level, and L2 is the Explore More level.  The "C" levels are all below ground.  C1 is "A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond", C2 is "Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876-1968", and last but not least, is C3 (probably the most riveting part of the entire museum for a lot of people) which is "Slavery and Freedom 1400-1877".  Since I have another ticket to go back in 2 weeks, I decided I would do just the "L" levels today and the "C" levels next time.  

So, I walked into the museum about 15 minutes before my scheduled time of 1:15pm and put some of my extra bags in the lockers they have in the lobby (which are super convenient and a GENIUS idea!).  The lobby itself was spacious, clean, and bright.  They had a nice little welcome desk and they were giving out little buttons to visitors.  I grabbed a button and made my way to the very top.  

L4: Culture Galleries

Once I walked in here, I KNEW it was going to take me about an hour to process each level.  There was so much information coming from so many avenues!  But still, it didn't feel disorganized, just overwhelming, but in a beautiful way.  When you think about it, our level of culture is overwhelming, so it definitely reflects reality just by the setup alone.  I started at the station called "Foodways" which was, of course, about the food contributions we have made to America.  They also had some cooking tools on display including some old school cast-iron skillets!  Now I know some of y'all got some super old cast-iron skillets that have been passed down for generations, because I sure do!  They also had sections for style, gestures, hair, colorism, music, architecture and visual art as well.  Check it out:

Grandma gave us all her cast irons too!

Grandma gave us all her cast irons too!

He put her through the test! Would you be able to pass?

He put her through the test! Would you be able to pass?

Fleur de Lis made of red beans and rice, yum!

Fleur de Lis made of red beans and rice, yum!

Maya Angelou puttin' in work!

Maya Angelou puttin' in work!

Ann Lowe designed dresses for First Lady Jackie Kennedy...and of course barely received recognition for it

Ann Lowe designed dresses for First Lady Jackie Kennedy...and of course barely received recognition for it

Madam C.J. Walker, a Black beauty pioneer (although she did sell skin bleaching creams...I guess you have to consider the times)

Madam C.J. Walker, a Black beauty pioneer (although she did sell skin bleaching creams...I guess you have to consider the times)

Dividing us by color...

Dividing us by color...

They even put the Paper Bag Test in here...wow!

They even put the Paper Bag Test in here...wow!

Yep, I remember these days...

Yep, I remember these days...

A headdress made out of afro picks!

A headdress made out of afro picks!

I LOVED his jewelry that they showed!

I LOVED his jewelry that they showed!

I loved the fact that they had culture influences from the full African diaspora as well

I loved the fact that they had culture influences from the full African diaspora as well

L3: Community Galleries

The next level was full of exhibits about how Black people have impacted the community directly through civil work, sports, entrepreneurship, and many other ways.  The L4 level was set up more in a circular fashion but this one was set up more like a maze.  There was a lot to read and see here.  There were great exhibits on big sports stars and their contributions to the community OUTSIDE of their athletic achievements (a la Muhammed Ali, Jesse Owens, etc.), the role of Black people in each war that this country has been involved in (all the way back before the Revolutionary War even), and there was an overall sense of what Black people in the past have done to create paths for Black people like us today.  Check out these shots I took:

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Foundations in the Black church

Foundations in the Black church

We've clearly been on this "for us, by us" life for along time!

We've clearly been on this "for us, by us" life for along time!

An old newspaper press

An old newspaper press

This poem is so relevant!

This poem is so relevant!

Hey Sherl!!

Hey Sherl!!

That's right! (That's where I'm from)

That's right! (That's where I'm from)

I loved this Jesse Owens statue!

I loved this Jesse Owens statue!

Venus and Serena Williams!

Venus and Serena Williams!

What y'all know about Jack Johnson's story?

What y'all know about Jack Johnson's story?

The last level L3 was the Explore More level and there were a few stations where you could interact with the exhibits.  I saw a bunch of kids learning to how to step in a setup that mimicked "Dance Dance Revolution", which was really cool.  They also had a room set up for ancestry and you will soon be able to sit down with someone and they can help you find information about your ancestors.  This level was the slowest though, as far as traffic was concerned.

Overall, I had a great first experience at the museum.  I really encourage you to make a trip to DC to check it out because you will see a lot that you may already know but also learn a lot.  I learned tons of new things.  Have any of you been to the museum?  What was your favorite part or something new you learned?