Museum News

National Museum of African American History and Culture Reaches Milestone: 1 Million Visitors

Sweet Home Café also Named Semifinalist in 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards

February 20, 2017

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) topped the 1 million mark in visitors last week, a milestone reached in just over four months since its Sept. 24, 2016 opening. And the museum’s dwell time, the length of time a visitor stays in a museum, is unparalleled—averaging six hours or more on weekends, compared to 75 minutes to two hours for most museums.

“The opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture was a 13-year journey to foster a broader understanding of the black experience in a national and international context,” said Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director. “It has truly become a place of healing, reconciliation, and celebration where people can embrace—not only African American history and culture, but—how that layered history has shaped America’s identity.” 

The museum’s diverse features and programming—from its 11 inaugural exhibitions showcasing 3,000 objects illustrating African American history to its research and education programs, Contemplative Court, theater, store and café—have helped to draw visitors from across the country and throughout the world.    

This month, along with high visitation numbers, the museum’s restaurant, Sweet Home Café, was named one of 20 semifinalists nominated for the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards in the category of Best New Restaurant (Presented by True Refrigeration®). Sweet Home Café is one of few museum restaurants ever to receive this honor.  The café boasts both refined and down-home cooking intricately linked to the geographic regions that inspired each dish, revealing stories about African American culture through food.

Often referred to as the “Oscars of Food,” the annual James Beard Foundation Awards honor the country’s most respected chefs, restaurateurs, beverage professionals, and are among the most elite honors in the field of culinary arts.

Media Contact(s): 

Shrita Hernandez; NMAAHC-PublicAffairs@si.edu
Fleur Paysour; paysourf@si.edu 

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About The Museum

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.