The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (Courtesy photo)

The District’s newest addition to the incomparable Smithsonian “family,” the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) recently topped the 1 million mark in visitors — reaching the milestone just a little over four months since its Sept. 24 opening.

But there’s more. The museum’s “dwell time” — that is the length of time a visitor stays in a museum — has achieved unparalleled numbers 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,” he said.

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

Also of note, with impressively high visitation numbers already achieved, the museum’s restaurant, Sweet Home Café, has been named one of 20 semifinalists now vying for the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards in the category of Best New Restaurant (Presented by True Refrigeration).

Sweet Home Café becomes one of only a handful of museum restaurants to have received this honor. The café offers both refined and down-home cooking intricately linked to the geographic regions that inspired each dish and which reveal stories about African-American culture through food.

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

For more information about the NMAAHC, located on the National Mall next to the Washington Monument, visit or call 202-633-1000.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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