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Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture

AAFSW cordially invites you to a special guided tour to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on Thursday, December 8 at 11:00 am. The museum is located on the National Mall at Constitution Avenue.

RSVP to AAFSW at office@aafsw.org by Friday, December 2nd. Note that we have limited space, so please register early. Please send a check for $10.00 for non-members, and $5.00 for members to 4001 North Ninth Street, Suite 214, Arlington VA, 22203.

Many of the world’s great buildings have integrated their architectural form with their function or purpose. The NMAAHC follows this principle in the sense that the building, as a “container,” embraces its conten. In this case, the American story told through the lens of African American history and culture. The NMAAHC’s highly symbolic presence on the National Mall is matched by the symbolism of the building itself. Lead designer David Adjaye and lead architect Philip Freelon won the international competition in April 2009 to design and deliver the museum to the people of the United States. Construction on the five-acre site took place in February 2012. The son of a Ghanaian diplomat, Adjaye grew up as a citizen of the world: he has lived in Egypt, England, Lebanon, and Tanzania, and has visited all 54 independent nations of Africa. Freelon is the leading designer for African American museums today.

From one perspective, the building’s architecture follows classical Greco-Roman form in its use of a base and shaft, topped by a capital or corona. The corona is inspired by the three-tiered crowns used in Yoruban art from West Africa. The building’s main entrance is a welcoming porch, which has architectural roots in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora, especially the American South and Caribbean. By wrapping the entire building in an ornamental bronze-colored metal lattice, Adjaye pays homage to the intricate ironwork that was crafted by enslaved African Americans in Louisiana, South Carolina, and elsewhere. The enveloping lattice also opens the building to exterior daylight, which can be modulated according to the season.

This is architecturally practical and sustainable—and will help the building become the first Smithsonian museum to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. The openness to light is also symbolic for a museum that seeks to stimulate open dialogues about race and to help promote reconciliation and healing. From the topmost corona, the view reaches ever upward, helping to remind visitors that the museum is an inspirational open to all as a place of meaning, memory, reflection, laughter, and hope.

We look forward to seeing you.

Sheila Switzer
AAFSW Program Chair