The Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. are some of the finest in the world, and starting this month, there is a large, important new edition. The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens, after 13 years of planning and construction. The New York Times has a fabulous exploration of the new museum, with some very powerful and poignant examples of the artifacts the space has on display. From the earliest days of the US as a slave trading nation, to the inauguration of the country’s first black president, this museum pays homage to history, to people, to our darkest days, and our brighter future. It’s all part of a huge, beautifully designed building right on the Capitol Mall. We can’t wait to visit.
POWERFUL OBJECTS The collection includes potent artifacts, including a Ku Klux Klan hood and stereotypical representations of black Americans.
CAT-O’-NINE-TAILS This type of whip was often used aboard slave ships.
THOMAS JEFFERSON AND HIS SLAVES A statue of Thomas Jefferson stands in front of a stack of bricks marked with the names of people he owned.
THE BLACK POWER SALUTE Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists when the United States national anthem was played during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
CRADLE AND SHACKLES The cradle was made around 1830. These shackles are from around 1845. Both are in an exhibition on slave life and work.
KING COTTON Bales have been stacked to represent the country’s enormous economic reliance on slavery during the early years of its expansion. The bell nearby called people to and from the fields.
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