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:
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:
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?