Behind the Scenes: Preparing for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

In Landover, curators are cataloging treasures that will make up the museum.

To the public, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is little more than a construction project on the Mall at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue, but a dozen miles away in a vast, guarded Smithsonian warehouse in Landover, curators are cataloging treasures that will make up the museum's collection. So far, 25,000 of an expected 30,000 objects—spanning slavery and segregation to civil rights and the election of President Obama—have been labeled and carefully packed for storage until the planned opening in December 2015. "The highest joy will come when we can watch people come into the museum and experience the power of these objects on their own," says the museum's director, Lonnie Bunch."A great many ancestors will be smiling."

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Photograph by Sam Kittner.

This article appears in the December 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

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Posted at 12:33 PM/ET, 12/20/2013 RSS | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Guides