With over a century in the making, the efforts of so many people for so many years are finally coming to pass — the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture announced its Grand Opening would occur on September 24, 2016.
First conceived in 1915, the Museum will honor and celebrate the journeys of Africans to America, and the contributions that African-Americans have made to our society. Fittingly, the dedication service, the ribbon cutting ceremony to the grand opening of the museum will be presided over by none other than the first and presently-sitting African-American President of the United States of America, Barack Hussien Obama, II.
Aside from the Federal Government grant of half of the $360 million budget, major donors of more than $5 million include Pinnacle donors The Lilly Endowment Inc., Mr. Robert Frederick Smith, The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation; Capstone donors The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rhimes Family Foundation and David M. Rubenstein; and Cornerstone donors 3M Corporation, American Express, The Boeing Company, The Ford Foundation, GE, Robert L. Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, The Rockefeller Foundation, Target, United Health Group and Wal-Mart. In late August, Michael Jordan also pledged $5 million.
On display at the Museum will be mementos, artifacts and relics representing African Americans in the United Sates including gifts to humanitarian and abolitionist Harriet Tubman from Queen Victoria; notable uniforms, garments and costumes worn by Black Confederate and Union Soldiers, Rosa Parks, Pearl Bailey, James Brown and the cast of The Wiz; musical instruments and props owned by Louis Armstrong, George Clinton and J Dilla; Garments created by fashion designer Ann Lowe for members of the DuPont, Roosevelt and Rockefeller families. She was also the designer of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s wedding dress. World-famous Heavyweight boxer Mohammad Ali’s training headgear will also be on display.
Of particular interest will be several items loaned from South Africa’s Iziko Museum from the rare recently-raised 1794 Portuguese working slave ship São José Paquete in which 212 slaves perished when the ship sank while en route from Mozambique to Colonial Brazil, carrying 400 to 500 slaves in total.
Other exhibits of special interest are the PT-13D Stearman biplane trainer aircraft operated by the United States Army Air Corps and used in 1944 for training The Tuskegee Airmen, also including the Purple Heart and footlocker of James L. McCullin of the Tuskegee Airmen and other artifacts of the era.
Officially, the Tuskegee Airmen formed the all-black 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. The name also applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel for the pilots during World War II.
If you are planning a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, click on the Museum’s website nmaahc.si.edu where you can read about the up-coming opening ceremony Sept. 24 as well as the three-day “Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration,” starting Sept. 23 from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is located on the western end of the Mall, adjacent to the Washington Monument.
The opening ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 24, and the museum will open to the public for the first time from 1 to 6 p.m. Extended hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. begin the following day. The museum will offer timed admission to help control the expected crowds. The free tickets will be available in advance and on the day of a visit. Details about obtaining tickets will be available soon.
Back to Home