News & Politics

Road Closures, Traffic Detours, and Security Information for the African American History Museum Opening

Photograph via Evy Mages

The Smithsonian expects as many as 20,000 people to show up Saturday for the dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Between the official program—which will feature appearances by President Obama, former President George W. Bush, and a host of donors and other dignitaries—and the three-day Freedom Sounds music festival at the Washington Monument, there will be a slew of road closures and security measures around the Mall this weekend.

Street closures and detours, which you can see on the map below, will begin about 7 PM Friday when officials block off six blocks of Constitution Ave., Northwest, and other roads around the museum, which sits at the intersection of Constitution and 14th St. Some roads will reopen Saturday afternoon, after the dedication ceremony is finished, while others will remain closed until 10 PM Sunday. Any drivers trying to get in our out of the District via the 14th Street Bridge may want to find a different route.

Additionally, expect airport-style security around both the dedication and the concert. While the museum grounds during the dedication will be limited to dignitaries and television crews, the Smithsonian is setting up large video screens along the Mall for the crowd to watch the program, which will conclude with Obama ringing a freedom bell on loan from the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, one of the nation’s oldest black congregations. To get on to the mall, spectators will have to pass through checkpoints at either 17th St. and Constitution Ave., Northwest, or 17th St. and Independence Ave., Southwest. The long list of prohibited items include weapons, toy weapons, glass bottles, soda cans, hard-shell coolers, alcohol, tents, folding tables or chairs, aerosol containers, bicycles, balloons, and selfie sticks.

Beside television coverage—which can always be interrupted—the Smithsonian will also offer a live stream of the program on the museum’s website.

Don’t Miss Another Big Story—Get Our Weekend Newsletter

Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.