Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

I was finally able to get tickets to see DC’s newest museum!

I enjoyed the museum and am very pleased I was able to go before moving.  However, unless you have a specific interest, I am not sure I would put it on a short list of recommendations of museums for a first time visitor to DC.  While it is exceptionally well done, it is a lot of reading and hard in a crowd or with kids.  And because of the way it is laid out, it is difficult to just get a quick sense of the museum like you can with the Natural History, American History or Air and Space Museum.

But if you have more than a few days in DC, or have been here before, then I would definitely add it to your list.  While the crowds are finally thinning, it is still a safer bet to get tickets on line before your visit.  Because so much of the museum is reading, I recommend a 10 am visit in order to be ahead of the crowds.  To secure tickets, you can go to their website on the first Wednesday of every month at 0900 EST.


The majority of the museum is underground on three floors that stretch 1.5 miles and cover over 400 years of history.  The exhibits start slightly before slavery and extend through the current decade.

“There is no Spaniard who dares to stick his head in the hatch without becoming ill…So great is the stench the crowding and the misery of the place.  Most arrive turned into skeletons.”  Alonzo De Sandoval, 1622

The bottom floor is appropriately dark and oppressive as you read about the unfathomable numbers and human suffering.  The amount of information is overwhelming and it is impossible to absorb it all.  I know people who have been multiple times and never made it off the first floor.

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