What Is Inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture?

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is a Smithsonian Institution museum located in Washington, D.C. It was established in 2003 and opened to the public on September 24, 2016. The museum is home to over 36,000 artifacts that tell the story of African American history and culture.

The History Galleries

The museum’s history galleries are divided into three sections: Slavery and Freedom, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. Each section features exhibits that highlight the struggles and triumphs of African Americans throughout history.

In the Slavery and Freedom gallery, visitors can see artifacts from the transatlantic slave trade, such as shackles and branding irons. Exhibits also explore the lives of enslaved people, including their cultural traditions and resistance to slavery.

The Reconstruction and Jim Crow gallery covers the period from 1865 to 1968. Visitors can learn about the challenges faced by African Americans during this time, including segregation laws and racist violence. One exhibit displays a segregated railway car from the Jim Crow era.

The Civil Rights Movement gallery features artifacts from events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, sit-ins at lunch counters in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington.

Cultural Galleries

The NMAAHC also features several cultural galleries that showcase African American art, music, sports, religion, and cuisine.

In the Music Gallery, visitors can see instruments played by famous musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Chuck Berry. The gallery also explores various genres of music created by African Americans such as jazz, blues, gospel music.

The Sports Gallery highlights African American athletes who broke barriers in their respective sports. Visitors can see Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves or Jesse Owens’ track shoes. The gallery also includes exhibits on black pioneers in sports like tennis player Arthur Ashe and golfer Charlie Sifford.

The Cultural Expressions Gallery features artwork, clothing, and jewelry created by African American artists. Visitors can see paintings by Jacob Lawrence, photographs by Gordon Parks, and quilts made by Harriet Powers.

Community Galleries

The NMAAHC also has several community galleries that showcase the diversity of African American experiences across the United States. These galleries highlight topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the experience of African Americans in the military, and the contributions of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

One exhibit in the Military Gallery tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American pilots who served during World War II. The gallery also features artifacts from other wars such as Vietnam and Iraq.

The HBCU Gallery showcases the history and contributions of these institutions to higher education in America. Visitors can learn about famous graduates like Thurgood Marshall and Oprah Winfrey.


The National Museum of African American History and Culture is an important institution that tells the story of African American history and culture in America. Its exhibits are engaging and informative, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the struggles faced by African Americans throughout history. If you’re ever in Washington D., be sure to add a visit to this museum to your itinerary!