Visit the Astounding National Museum of African American History and Culture

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture Architectural Photrography

This column went dark the past two weeks, while I was visiting my younger son in Washington, D.C., where he has resided since February. The toughest ticket in town is the National Museum of African American History and Culture , which soon will reach four million visitors since its inception in September 2016 — close to 10,000 per day, if you do the math. Advance tickets must be secured weeks if not months in advance. A few lucky souls gain entry at the daily 1:00 pm walk-up, which calls for standing in line several hours not knowing whether you’ll make it in before the cut-off, which if you don’t means those hours waiting were for naught. Since I hadn’t done my homework and obtained advance tickets, and since I wasn’t prepared to invest hours waiting in line without guarantee of entrance, I hatched a plan: get there at 1:30 and hope someone gave museum gate ushers an unneeded ticket. Bingo! I love it when a plan comes together. And, as is often the case (for me, at least) whenever I’ve visited a museum (especially the large-scale collections on the National Mall in DC), I was blown away time and again by what I encountered.

Let me put this subtly: DO NOT MISS THIS MUSEUM! All the hype and hoopla about it: it’s an understatement! Here’s the thing, though. For all its spectacular collection of African American culture and history, the thing that most blew me away wasn’t inside the building. It was the building itself. The museum’s building was constructed in the shape of a slave ship. Think about that. While, you’re thinking, here’s the photo I took seconds after I realized what I was looking at.