Three days of celebration start Friday in Washington, D.C., to mark the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where more than 3,000 objects tell the story of blacks in America, from slavery to freedom to the struggle for civil rights and beyond.
President Barack Obama is to speak at Saturday morning’s dedication outside the museum, located at 1400 Constitution Ave. NW, just northeast of the Washington Monument.
Dignitaries expected to attend include former President George W. Bush, who signed legislation in 2003 to create the museum, and former first lady Laura Bush, officials said. The program includes musical performances and readings by “well-known actors,” they said.
C-SPAN is among the television channels covering the event, with a report scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and continuing through the dedication ceremony.
Members of the public will be able to view the dedication ceremony from the grounds of the Washington Monument and on Jumbotrons placed around the site. Officials urged those attending to bring blankets because there is no seating on the monument grounds.
The 400,000-square-foot museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution, is to open in the afternoon, but only to those with timed-entry passes — and no more are available throughout the opening weekend, the museum’s website indicated.
Some 28,500 passes have been snapped up for Saturday and Sunday, according to media reports. All timed-entry passes also are taken for the rest of September and during October, according to the museum’s website. Passes are available for November and December.
The festival, “Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration,” starts at noon Friday on the Washington Monument’s grounds and continues through Sunday night.
Free and open to the public, it features live musical performances, with concerts Saturday and Sunday evenings from the likes of The Roots and Public Enemy, as well as dance, spoken word, oral history activities and food.
According to the museum website, https://nmaahc.si.edu, the festival has three broad themes: homecoming, celebration, and call and response.
“This weekend’s events highlight the breadth and depth of African-American expressive cultures, from storytelling and music to dance and visual art,” the website says.
The museum also invites the public to engage with “artist Cey Adams at the Mural Wall in creating a collaborative collage-style mural which will go into the museum’s collection.” At the “Making History Social Media” tent, the public is invited to commemorate the museum’s opening using digital technologies and share their own personal stories and reflections on the museum’s opening at the Oral History tent.