THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE

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The $540million, 37,160 sqm, three-tiered National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC) building is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C, it houses artifacts and chronicles dedicated to informing and record African-American history and culture.

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The museum building design was executed by Adjaye Associates teamed up with American architects The Freelon Group and Davis Brody Bond, under the collaborative name Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup (FAB). The four-firm team was selected based on a design competition sponsored by the museum’s board of trustees in 2008; the team was led by the recent Panerai London Design 2016 medalist, Tanzanian-Ghanaian descent, British architect David Adjaye.

The design featured an above-ground floor in form of an inverted pyramid surrounded by bronze architectural scrim, which reflected a crown used in the Yoruba Culture. The exterior corona is made of 3,600 bronzed-colored cast-aluminium pearl. The distinctive architecture alternatively symbolizes hands lifted in prayer,in what the museum said is an expression of faith, hope, and resilience.

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The building’s design alludes to Yoruba art from West Africa, and to the filigree iron work made by American slaves | Illustration by Vincent Mahe

The exterior corona is made of 3,600 bronzed-colored cast-aluminium pearl. The distinctive architecture alternatively symbolizes hands lifted in prayer,in what the museum said is an expression of faith, hope, and resilience.

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A bronzed finished aluminum with decorative patterns references traditional metalwork.

The bronze-toned NMAAHC building blends with its surroundings; the aluminum screen envelope is marked with a specific filigree pattern that David Adjaye chose in reference to the decorative metalwork created by African-American craftsmen from the country’s southern cities meanwhile, many key indoor spaces were conceived by Davis Brody Bond, where the relationship between the exterior and interior work together to respond to the dedicated program.

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The Smithsonian Institution Bird Eye View

Though decades ago an effort was made to bring this museum to life it was not set in motion until 2003 when American President George W. Bush signed a bill for its construction; 13 years since congress. The NMAAHC in 2007 became the first major museum to open on the web before the completion of its physical structure.

Google donated $1million to the museum early September 2016 as a part of Google.org’s ongoing work on racial and social justice issues. The tech firm initially worked with NMAAHC to create a 3D Interactive exhibit which allows visitors to see artifacts in a close up 360-degree viewing through mobile phones. This 3D exhibit was created by designers and engineers from the Black Googler Network.

According to the Smithsonian, the museum is the only one in the US exclusively focused on the African-American life, history and culture, the organizers also indicated it was intended to capture the story of all Americans. The museum has freedom as its centerpiece, operating in the spirit of Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too,” the powerful message -The African-American story is an American story- is declared.

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Left: Travis Phil Google’s Software Engineer on NHAAMC site | Right: Langston Hughes I, Too, Sing America

The Lowest Level covers the history galleries Slavery to Emancipation, this museum decided to tell its story in part chronologically rather than thematically confronting head on America’s history of slavery and racial opposition. Positive messages were reflected in spite of the memorialization of suffering.

Slave shackles inside the new National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. NYTCREDIT: Lexey Swall for The New York Times
Slave shackles inside the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C | CREDIT: Lexey Swall

The Ramp Upward covers the history galleries Segregation to Today this explains the history that continues to evolve. It also documents the presidency of Barack Obama but artifacts reflecting events like Black Lives Matter protests underscore persistent inequality and police brutality.

 on diplay inside the new National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. NYTCREDIT: Lexey Swall for The New York Times
CREDIT: Lexey Swall

The Upper Galleries floor 3 and 4, this above ground covers Community and Culture departing from chronological storytelling into the examination of the African American achievements in fields like music, art, sports, and the military. Diverse experiences of African-American were exhibited.

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The above-ground arena can be toured without venturing into the histories below. The museum has video booth where visitors can leave their thoughts and a space called Contemplative Court where they can sit to come to terms with the powerful display they witnessed.

Visit National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

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