It’s only about 20 miles from my house, but until yesterday I had never been to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
In a word, I’ll be back, because…
this is the best museum in D.C.
There are about 70 such institutions that curate objects of cultural or historical significance in our nation’s capital: some big, some small, some broad in scope, others more narrow. I’ve been to probably half of them. To some I’ve brought school groups, to some I’ve brought my family, and to some I’ve gone alone. They’ve all been at least moderately interesting, but there’s one that stands out above all others.
I assure you I’m not just the white guy trying to say the woke thing here; the African American History Museum is the best of the lot.
Opened in 2016 it’s the new kid on the block, and yes, it’s got many of the trappings of a “modern,” 21st-century museum. Unlike the museums of my youth–painting, statute, do not touch–this one’s got videos, games, and screens you’re supposed to touch.
Much of the first two floors are devoted to the tragic part of the story. This unfortunate tale must be told. Slavery, racism, and some of the worst atrocities committed by man. It’s important to see. And we did.
The upper floors tell a little more of the modern and cultural part of the story, part of which has a political angle and part of which I could just experience as a fan. For the most part it’s sports and music, two of my favorite subjects anyway. And yeah, most of my childhood idols in these endeavors I realize now, well, let’s just say they don’t look like me. Some of the best athletes and best musicians, succeeding despite many of the obstacles presented by the attitudes described above. Or below, as goes the layout of the building.
Do yourself a favor and visit the museum some time. Of the many museum options in D.C….
this one’s the best.