The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) commemorates the black community and the impact African Americans have had on the United States and the world. It operates simultaneously as a museum, a memorial, and a space for cross-cultural collaboration and learning. The nearly 400,000-square-foot museum houses exhibition galleries, a contemplative court and reflection areas, an education center, a 350-seat theater, a cafeteria, a store, administrative offices, and collections storage space. Visitors are guided on a historical and emotional journey, beginning with the History Galleries below, ascending through exhibits highlighting slavery and freedom. The Contemplative Court sets the tone for reflection and remembrance before visitors continue into the “1968 and Beyond” exhibit housed in the upper levels. The design approach to the NMAAHC establishes both a meaningful relationship to its unique site on the National Mall and a strong conceptual resonance with America’s deep and longstanding African heritage. The design itself rests on four cornerstones: the corona shape and form of the building, the bronze filigree screen, the lenses framing views through the envelope, and the extension of the building out into the landscape.


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