Opening next month in Washington, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture investigates 400 years of US society
From slave shackles to Princes tambourine: when the Smithsonians African American museum opens next month, it will offer visitors a layered journey through the long and complicated history of black people in America written in artifacts large and small, old and new.
Most of the museums larger installations a guard tower from the Angola prison in Louisiana; the Parliament-Funkadelic mothership retrieved from frontman George Clintons home have been in place since at least this spring. Many, like the guard tower, which was transported more than 1,000 miles on the back of an oversized flatbed truck, had to be in place before the building could even be finished.
But as the public opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture draws near, the Smithsonian has released details about some of the artifacts that, while physically smaller, still represent monumental moments in the history of black Americans. The list spans some 400 years of US society, from the barbarism of the slave trade to the outsized cultural achievements of black Americans in decades past.