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Latest Exhibition

"Reclaiming My Time" Now Open

The museum's first exhibition devoted to contemporary Black designers features chairs and other work by designers who engage with ideas related to rest, repose and histories of labor and leisure.

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A Century in the Making

The journey to open this museum took many attempts and numerous steps to realize. It involved the activism of private citizens and organizations, passage of federal legislation, construction of an inspiring new building, and collecting thousands of artifacts.
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C1 – Concourse

A Changing America

While the modern Civil Rights Movement achieved many victories, it did not end the struggle for freedom. As African Americans have continued to pursue goals of equity and justice, the definition of African American identity has also continued to evolve.
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Afrofuturism expresses notions of Black identity, agency and freedom through art, creative works and activism that envision liberated futures for Black life.
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Chez Baldwin

James Baldwin’s house in the South of France serves as a powerful lens to explore his life and works. From 1971 to 1987, his home in St. Paul de Vence was his permanent, vibrant abode and an important social center for artists and intellectuals from Europe, Africa, America, and around the world.
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City of Hope

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference launched The Poor People's Campaign — a national, multiethnic, multicultural movement to demand equal access to economic opportunities and security for all people.
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L4 - Culture Galleries 

Cultural Expressions

Culture shapes lives. It’s in the food people eat, the languages they speak, the art they create, and many other ways they express themselves. These traditions reflect the history and creative spirit of African American and other cultures of the African diaspora.
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Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom

With the end of slavery, African Americans had hoped to attain full citizenship. Instead they confronted a new form of oppression—segregation. Through their century-long struggle for civil rights, they challenged the nation to live up to its ideals of freedom and equality.
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L3 - Community Galleries

Double Victory

From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror, African Americans have served in the United States military. In defending their country, they hoped to earn freedom and citizenship and contribute to a changed America where racial equality was possible.
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L2 – Explore More!

Everyday Beauty

On view from September 24, 2016 – February 4, 2019, "Everyday Beauty: Photographs and Films from the Permanent Collection" demonstrated how people have used media arts to document African Americans’ everyday lives, as well as challenge negative perceptions, demonstrate the strength of the human spirit, and promote social reform.
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L2 – Explore More!

Explore More!

Explore More! is an interactive, multifaceted educational space dedicated to helping visitors connect and engage with African American history and culture in ways that expand perspectives, spark curiosity and creativity, and increase knowledge.
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L3 - Community Galleries

Forces for Change

"Forces for Change: Mary McLeod Bethune and Black Women’s Activism" explores renowned educator and reformer Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955) and other Black women social change agents, past and present.
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In Slavery's Wake

Opening December 2024, "In Slavery’s Wake" is a project and international exhibition on the history and afterlives of slavery.
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Online Only

Jesus' Hair Like Wool

In 2019, the Last Supper Sculpture was rediscovered behind a temporary dry wall at the Studio Acting Conservatory, formerly New Home Baptist Church, in the Columbia Heights community in Washington, D.C., it ignited and renewed cultural conversations concerning the centering of Black life in general, and Black religious life in particular.
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Make Good the Promises

Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies focuses on the story of Reconstruction—the period following the Civil War—through an African American lens.
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L3 - Community Galleries

Making a Way Out of No Way

Through education, religious institutions, businesses, the press, and voluntary associations, African Americans created ways to serve and strengthen their communities. They also developed a tradition of activism that paved the way for broader social change.
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L2 – Explore More!

Millie Christine

Millie Christine: The Life and Legal Battles of the Carolina Twins explores the lives of enslaved conjoined twins who were considered physical oddities and exhibited as circus and side show attractions throughout the United States and Europe beginning in the pre-Civil War era. The exhibit examines the complexities of freedom, profit and family connection for the McCoy twins through the Freedmen’s Bureau and its records.
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More Than A Picture

Photographs are more than just pictures. They record memories and document moments of pride, joy, and celebration, and sometimes conflict and confrontation. Every photograph has a deeper story that has shaped the histories of individuals, cultures, and communities.
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L4 - Culture Galleries 

Musical Crossroads

African American musical creativity has generated and enriched a vast array of musical styles, from folk and blues, to classical and spiritual, to jazz and hip-hop. These musical creations are a soundtrack to stories of African American history, culture, and community.
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Now Showing

In November 2019, the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA) opened Now Showing: Posters from African American Movies, a temporary exhibition exploring the art of movie posters, specifically examining films by black filmmakers or works featuring black performers. The exhibition is on view November 22, 2019 – December 5, 2021.
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Pauli Murray's Proud Shoes

Pauli Murray’s Proud Shoes: A Classic in African American Genealogy explores the family history of Pauli Murray, a pioneering lawyer, priest and writer. Her book, Proud Shoes: An African American Family, showcases the racial and social dynamics between the union of a free black family from the north and a mixed-race family of the south.
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L3 - Community Galleries

Power of Place

African American communities have formed in all corners of the country and influenced the regions around them. Their stories reflect the resiliency of African Americans in making places for themselves and overcoming the challenges they faced.
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L4 - Culture Galleries 


Visual art has long provided its own protest, commentary, escape and perspective for African Americans. The Black painters, sculptors, photographers and textile artists featured exemplify the tradition of exhibiting resilience in times of conflict, as well as the ritual of creation, and the defiant pleasure of healing.
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L4 - Culture Galleries 

Reclaiming My Time

"Reclaiming My Time" features work by contemporary Black designers that engages ideas about cultural heritage, bodies at rest, and histories of labor and leisure.
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L2 – Explore More!


In honor of the publication of The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap and African American Music Appreciation Month in June, the museum decided to remix and re-release the show Represent: Hip-Hop Photography. Don’t miss your second chance to discover distinct visual pairings that will change the way you think about the roots of the art form.
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Slavery and Freedom

Five hundred years ago, the emergence of the Transatlantic Slave Trade transformed Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The United States was created in this context, forged by slavery as well as a radical new concept, freedom.
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L2 – Explore More!

Spirit in the Dark

Sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background, at times in the shadows—but always somewhere in the frame—religion is essential to the story of Black America.
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L3 - Community Galleries


Sports matter far beyond the playing fields. Though historically denied opportunities to compete at the highest levels, African American athletes have recorded impressive achievements and also utilized sports to fight for greater rights and freedoms.
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L4 - Culture Galleries 

Taking the Stage

Through their achievements on the stage and screen, African Americans have expressed creative visions, enriched American culture, and inspired audiences around the world. They have also used the power of performance to fuel social change.
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Through the African American Lens

On view from May 2015-October 2017, Through the African American Lens demonstrated how the African American story is quintessentially an American one of determination, faith, perseverance, pride, and resilience. The exhibition’s three sections—history, culture, and community—reflect the thematic strands of the new museum.
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L4 - Culture Galleries 

Visual Art and the American Experience

The visual arts play a vital role in illuminating the American experience through an African American lens. Paintings, sculptures, and works on paper reveal how artists viewed and interpreted their world and also contribute to our understanding of an era.
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We Return Fighting

We Return Fighting is a temporary exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It explores the African American experience during World War I. This exhibition closed on September 6, 2020.
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