Who Founded the National Museum of African American History and Culture?

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a prominent museum located in Washington, D.C. It is one of the most visited museums in the United States, and its exhibits showcase the rich history and culture of African Americans.

So, who founded this iconic museum?

The initiative to establish a national museum dedicated to African American history and culture can be traced back to the early 20th century. In 1915, a group of African American veterans from the Civil War proposed the idea of a national memorial to honor their contributions to the country.

However, it was not until 2003 that legislation was passed by Congress to establish the National Museum of African American History and Culture as part of the Smithsonian Institution. The bill was sponsored by Representative John Lewis and Senator Sam Brownback.

Lonnie G. Bunch III was appointed as the founding director of the museum in 2005. Bunch had previously served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society and had extensive experience in developing exhibitions on African American history.

Under Bunch’s leadership, construction of the museum began in 2012 on a site adjacent to the Washington Monument on the National Mall. The building’s design incorporates elements from traditional African architecture, such as a corona-shaped bronze lattice that wraps around its exterior.

The museum opened its doors to visitors on September 24, 2016, after more than a decade of planning and construction. Its collection includes over 35,000 artifacts that span centuries of African American history, from slavery and segregation to contemporary art and cultural expression.

Some notable exhibits at the museum include:

The Slavery and Freedom Exhibition

This exhibit explores the institution of slavery in America and its lasting impact on society. It includes artifacts such as slave shackles, auction blocks, and personal belongings of enslaved individuals.

The Civil Rights Exhibition

This exhibit chronicles key moments in the civil rights movement, including the Montgomery bus boycott, the March on Washington, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It features items such as Rosa Parks’ dress and a lunch counter from the Greensboro sit-ins.

Cultural Expressions Exhibition

This exhibit showcases African American contributions to music, literature, art, and sports. It includes artifacts such as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and a costume worn by BeyoncĂ© in her “Formation” music video.

In conclusion, the National Museum of African American History and Culture was founded by Congress in 2003 with Lonnie G. Bunch III as its founding director. The museum’s collection spans centuries of African American history and culture through its exhibits and artifacts. Its unique design and location on the National Mall make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning more about this important aspect of American history.