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National Museum of African American History and Culture

Washington, D.C.

National Museum of African American History and Culture Interior
National Museum of African American History and Culture_`

The National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. The museum helps all Americans see how their stories, their histories, and their cultures are shaped and informed by global influences. It explores what it means to be an American and shares how values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture.

National Museum of African American History and Culture Interior
National Museum of African American History and Culture Interior

RAA was asked to design twelve galleries, taking visitors on a historically rooted journey that embraces community and celebrates culture. The History galleries cover 400 years of America’s history: Slavery and Freedom, the Era of Segregation, and Beyond 1968. The Community galleries tell the stories of Making a Way Out of No Way, the Power of Place, Military History, and Sports. The Culture galleries present Cultural Expressions, Taking the Stage, Musical Crossroads, and Visual Arts.

National Museum of African American History and Culture_3

The national response to the museum has been significant, with visitation topping one million visitors in little over four months after opening, and more than three million in its first full year of operation. In addition to the remarkable visitation, people are engaged three to four times longer than the average museum visit with durations of six to eight hours. It has, according to The Washington Post, “changed the center of gravity on the Mall.”

Size 85,000 square feet

Year 2016

Architect Adjaye Associates David Brody Bond Freelon Group

Project Details

Concept CollaboratorsWeShouldDoItAll (WSDIA), studioSUMO, Pentagram, Lord Cultural Resources

Structural EngineerSilman Associates

Prime Exhibit Fabricator and A/V IntegrationD&P

Exhibit FabricatorsHadley, Pacific Studios

Lighting DesignerLuce Group

Acoustical EngineeringSH Acoustics

Sound DesignerCharles Morrow Associates

Media ConsultantsResident Genius, Leslie Gladsjo, Local Projects

A/V Design and EngineeringElectrosonic

Specialty CastingsStudio EIS

Executive Media ProducerSmithsonian Channel

MEPWSP Flack + Kurtz, Inc.

AwardsDezeen Award: Longlist, Civic and Cultural InteriorInternational Design Award (IDA): Silver, Interior Design / Exhibits, Pavilions and ExhibitionsRed Dot Award: Winner, Spatial CommunicationThe Society for Enviromental Graphic Design (SEGD) Global Design Award: Merit AwardACEC/MA Engineering Excellence Award: GoldWashington Building Congress, Craftsmanship Award: WinnerFast Company Innovation by Design Award: Honorable Mention, Spaces, Places, and CitiesGOOD DESIGN® Award: Winner, EnvironmentsGraphis Design Annual: SilverInternational Design and Communication Award (IDCA): Gold, Best Scenography for a Permanent CollectionIndustrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), International Design Excellence Award (IDEA): Finalist, EnvironmentsThemed Entertainment Association (TEA): Winner, Outstanding Achievement: MuseumContract Magazine, Interiors Awards: Winner, Civic/Public


Photography Ron Blunt