TIME museums

Preview the Collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The museum opens on Sept. 24

On Saturday, the doors of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will open to the public, achieving a goal of black Americans that has been a century in the making.

The 19th Smithsonian Institution was designed to tell the story of the United States America—from its founding to today—from an African American perspective. The museum will also challenge visitors to grapple with some of the uglier points of American history, from the slave trade to Jim Crow.

“We felt it was crucial to craft a museum that would help America remember and confront, confront its tortured racial past,” said Lonnie Bunch, the director of the museum, at a press conference marking the museum’s opening. “But we also thought while America should ponder the pain of slavery and segregation, it also had to find the joy, the hope, the resiliency, the spirituality that was endemic in this community.”

Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter

The pieces the museum houses are meant to tell the unique tale of African American resilience; from the handmade tin box a black man used to carry his freedom papers to the headgear the late Muhammad Ali used to protect his head during fights.

The museum acquired some 40,000 artifacts for its collection, which curators only expect to continue to grow. Click through to see just a few of them.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team