National Museum of African American History and Culture Prepares for Grand Opening
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will have its grand opening on Saturday.
President Barack Obama will give an inaugural speech celebrating the opening, which was years in the making, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
It is the “only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, history, and culture,” according to its website. The museum’s exhibits look at African-American contributions to the country in entertainment, sports, art, and politics.
From the harrowing middle passage, to the victories won by Martin Luther King, Jr., the museum seeks to offer an in-depth history of the struggles and successes of black people in American over the centuries.
“This museum will reveal American history through the lens of the African-American experience. That’s literally and figuratively,” said Philip Freelon, a lead architect on the project, told TIME during a preview of the museum earlier this summer.
Notable historical objects include Harriet Tubman’s hymnal and lace shawl, as well as a Jim Crow railroad car. A Civil Rights exhibit within the museum focuses on the achievements of Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and other 1960s-era leaders while also including objects from the contemporary “Black Lives Matter” movement.
The entertainment section of the museum features Oprah Winfrey’s first set, musician Chuck Berry’s 1973 Cadillac convertible, more than 1,000 pieces from the Black Fashion Museum Collection, and much more.
The museum is intended both to educate the public on the history of the U.S. as well as to preserve elements of African-American culture and art. Works of art from Charles Alston, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Lorna Simpson, and Romare Bearden — to name a few — will all be featured in the museum.