(*Disclaimer: there was so much to see that I could not possibly capture the essence of the museum with these pictures.)
What can I say??? My trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture was such an emotional one. I was choked up the entire time and felt such a connection with the museum.
I wish I knew that there is a problem with parking. The subway is a viable option as well as parking garages which are around $25. I actually got a ticket because the only parking around there, is 2hr parking and your girl chose to park there. I will not be doing that again.
When I walked in, I was met by friendly faces and lots of people who looked like me. I have visited numerous museums in DC since a child. I have to say, this is only the second one where the people who worked there looked like me. I also felt a connection, because the music was my music. The films were my films and the artifacts were my artifacts. From the top floor to the bottom, I felt like I belonged there.
I stopped to chat with several elderly people from all over the country, just to listen to their stories. To listen to them, made this experience so much more personal and moving.
Since I got there at 3pm, I was not able to see all of the floors. In fact, I only visited two. The museum hours are 10AM–5:30PM daily. Be prepared to take your time to read and listen to the various exhibits. There is film, music and even areas where you can listen to the curators talk about various exhibits.
Below are a few tips to better prepare yourself:
- Get your tickets the minute you hear they are released. I got my October tickets in August. Right now, tickets are sold out through March 2017. If you have a few days to spare, order those tickets too. (If you can’t make it, like my hubby and kids couldn’t, consider letting other people get your extra tickets. I had extras and was able to give them to others via a FB post.)
- Leave the kids at home for your 1st trip. There are hundreds of people there and you won’t be able to read all you want to read and visit all you want to visit with little ones in tow. Going by myself was the best thing I could have done. I was able to linger when I wanted to without someone asking when we were leaving, etc.
- Wear comfortable shoes and wear a cross-body bag or purse. This makes it easy to maneuver and to keep your items close. I wore running shoes. I also took the steps and escalator because the elevators had lots of long lines.
- Bring water. All that walking will make you thirsty.
- Bring money. The museum shop has great take home gifts. Also, the restaurant, Sweet Home Cafe, has amazing food from all the various regions in the US. There are also food trucks outside, so feel free to visit those as well.
- Have patience. You will be accidentally bumped and in close quarters with people trying to see the exhibits. There are lots of school groups, families with strollers and elderly people in the building. Patience is a must!
- Bring tissue. The military portion of the exhibit brought me tears and I used my sleeve numerous times.
- Pace yourself. This museum has so many awesome exhibits, that it is impossible to see everything in one visit. Plan for a second trip and decide what you will see on your 1st trip and what you will see on your second.
- Start upstairs. The line for downstairs was so long that i decided to start upstairs. There were less crowds and I was able to get up close and personal with the exhibits up there.
- Bring a portable charger for your phone. You will drain your phone with all the picture taking and video recording. There is no FREE WIFI either, so be prepared to use data.
To be totally honest, I did not want to leave the museum. I was saddened when I heard them announce it was closing time. I felt like I belonged there. When I got home, I even signed up to volunteer there.
I hope you get a chance to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture by yourself and with your family. I will be visiting it again with my mom and I am so looking forward to her response to the museum. We are also planning to make it a part of our 2018 family reunion activities.
For more information, visit https://nmaahc.si.edu.
To map your your trip, visit https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/maps.
To get your passes, visit https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes.