The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian’s 19th museum, opened to the public on September 24, 2016. Photo by Alan Karchmer, National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture

$270 Million goal

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Overview

Our Goal: $270 Million

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened to the public on September 24, 2016, represents a national initiative of profound cultural importance. The museum tells a more complete American story by looking at the nation's history through an African American lens. The Smithsonian Campaign supported the construction of the new museum and its inaugural exhibitions. It also is funding acquisitions for the permanent collection, rotating exhibitions, centers of learning, public programs and other initiatives designed to stimulate a dialog about race in America and foster a spirit of reconciliation and healing.

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Leadership Message

Leadership Message

This new museum is a place where all Americans and visitors from around the world can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to our lives and how it helped shape this nation.

The iconic building on the National Mall is a beacon that reminds us of who we were, the challenges we still face and what we can become.

Through the Smithsonian Campaign, you can help create an unprecedented opportunity to explore and revel in African American history and culture.

Your gift will enable the museum to tell a compelling part of the nation’s story through interactive exhibitions featuring new research and new technologies and to engage new audiences now and for generations to come.

We invite your support.

Thank you.

  • Lonnie G. Bunch , III
    Founding Director, National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Campaign Case

Building a New National Museum

The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established by an Act of Congress in 2003 as the Smithsonian’s 19th museum. The nearly 400,000 square-foot-building opened to the public on September 24, 2016, and is the nation's largest museum devoted exclusively to exploring African American history and culture. The museum, the first "green" building on the National Mall, is adjacent to the Washington Monument and within sight of the White House.

The new museum bridges a major gap in our national memory by focusing on a wide arc of history—slavery, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, migrations to the North and West, segregation, the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. It also addresses contemporary issues and celebrates African American creativity and cultural expression.


Capital Campaign
The cost of the museum's architectural design, construction and the installation of the permanent exhibitions totaled $540 million. The American people, through federal appropriations, provided half of the funding, and the museum raised the balance through private philanthropy. Funding from the capital campaign also provides critical support for a plethora of initiatives—rotating exhibitions, acquisitions, centers of learning and public programs, for example—that bring the museum's mission to life.

Permanent Galleries
Exhibitions in the 11 permanent galleries trace American history from the 15th century to the present. They include Slavery and Freedom; Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876–1968; A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond; Making a Way Out of No Way; Power of Place; Musical Crossroads; Double Victory: The African American Military Experience; Visual Art and the American Experience; Taking the Stage; Sports: Leveling the Playing Field and Cultural Expressions.

Public Spaces
The three-tiered building with its distinctive bronze-colored corona was designed to achieve LEED gold certification. Other design elements reflect the faith, hope and resiliency of the African American spirit. Campaign gifts will help the museum become a 21st-century center for learning, collaboration and exchange.

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Priorities

National Museum of African American History and Culture

raised over $270 million of the Smithsonian Campaign’s overall $1.5 billion goal.

You will be recognized in the museum for a gift of $1 million or more.

Campaign Priorities

Public Space: Heritage Hall

$25 Million

Naming recognition for this public space requires a gift of $25 million.

Public Space: Contemplative Court

$15 Million

Naming recognition for this public space requires a gift of $15 million.

Culture: Musical Crossroads Gallery

$15 Million

Naming recognition for this exhibition space requires a gift of $15 million.

Community: Sports: Leveling the Playing Field Gallery

$10 Million

Naming recognition for this exhibition space requires a gift of $10 million.

Education: Library and Archives

$10 Million

Naming recognition for this exhibition space requires a gift of $10 million.

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Stories

Ken Chenault

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Kenneth Chenault

Giving Back, Making A Difference

In his job as chairman and CEO of American Express and in his philanthropic service and giving, Ken Chenault leads by example. He serves on the National Museum of African American History and Culture Council and is chair of the museum's Campaign. He and his wife Kathryn have given a gift for the design and construction of the museum. American Express is a Founding Donor to the museum as well. “The museum speaks of hope, it speaks of struggles and it speaks of dreams,” Chenault says. 

Museum Founding Director Lonnie Bunch and Earl Stafford

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Earl Stafford

Helping Build a Different Kind of Start Up

Earl Stafford builds organizations from the ground up. He founded a company that makes training systems for the U.S. military. He started the Stafford Foundation to help those in need become self-sufficient. He is a member of the National Musuem of African American History and Culture Council and supported the museum's construction. “You build a museum because you believe it’s transformative,” he said. “But it’s more than just giving financial gifts. You have to get involved. We have to direct others to this great effort.”

In addition to the philanthropic gifts made by Dr. and Mrs. T.B. Boyd III and family, the collection objects the family donated will help tell the African American story. 

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Dr. and Mrs. T.B. Boyd III and Family

Family's Gifts Tell Story of Four Generations 

For T.B. Boyd III, his wife Yvette Boyd and their children, business and philanthropy are a family affair. T.B. Boyd runs his family’s publishing company, founded in 1896 by Richard Henry Boyd, a former slave. T.B. Boyd is the fourth generation to lead this enterprise. The family’s gift to the National Museum of African American History and Culture is steeped in history as well. As Founding Donors, their campaign gift is helping fund the completion of the new museum. Their second gift is historic artifacts. "We need a repository for African American history in this country. A lot of our great stories have not been told. Along with our founder's gift, we're donating the clock from Nation's Bank, the nation's oldest continuously operated African American-owned bank, as well as the printing presses from R. H. Boyd Company, the oldest African American religious publishing company. I grew up with these beautiful artifacts. Now, they'll be shared by millions," T.B. Boyd says.

Groundbreaking ceremony, National Museum of African American History and Culture

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NMAAHC Stuyvesant Heights

Every Gift Tells a Story

Grade-schoolers from Brooklyn's Stuyvesant Heights Montessori raised more than $600 in change for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. They presented their gift to museum Founding Director Lonnie Bunch and were greeted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the museum's groundbreaking ceremony on February 22, 2012.  

 

James and Juliette McNeil 

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McNeil, James and Juliette

First Gift Helps Build Museum

James and Juliette McNeil are deeply rooted in their community in Alexandria, Virginia. They serve on many nonprofit boards and are generous philanthropists to charities, civic causes and faith institutions. A few years ago, they received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northern Virginia Urban League. The McNeils made their first gift to the Smithsonian as Founding Donors of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This gift helps ensure the museum will tell the vital stories of African American accomplishments from the earliest days of slavery through the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. “It is indeed a privilege and honor to support the Smithsonian Institution in its important work to tell the untold story of African American history, culture and contributions to this great country,” the McNeils say.

Robyn and Tony Coles

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Inspiring Philanthropy for an Inclusive History

Inspiring Philanthropy for an Inclusive History

Robyn and Tony Coles share a passion for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which they express by giving and by inspiring others to give. A member of the museum Council, Dr. Coles says, "We saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to donate and find other donors to tell the complex story of the African American experience. That story represents the arc of America; it highlights the worst and the best of us. It's been important to me that everyone feel included in that story." Mrs. Coles traces their passion for the newest Smithsonian museum to the couple's personal history: "As African American youth growing up in Washington, D.C., some of our earliest memories of new worlds to explore came from the storytelling of the Smithsonian museums." The couple's three sons were enthusiastic participants in the family's decision to give back to the Smithsonian. "We talked about what it means to leave a legacy in life and the responsibility we all have to make a positive impact in the world," says Mrs. Coles. "Our gifts to the museum allow us to do that."

Frederick C. Flemister, Self-Portrait (detail), 1941, and Archibald John Motley, Jr., The Argument (detail), 1940.

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Johnson Donates Art From His Collection

"Music has to be heard. Art has to be seen," says Robert Johnson, founder of the RLJ Companies and Black Entertainment Television. With this in mind, he donated paintings from his collection to the National Museum of African American History and Culture including works by Frederick C. Flemister, Romare Bearden and Archibald John Motley, Jr. "Art tells a story," Johnson says. "These pieces show the role African Americans played and continue to play in the United States."

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Giving is a Lewis Family Tradition

As the façade of the National Museum of African American History and Culture was transformed into a three-dimensional canvas, Loida Nicolas Lewis sat in the audience in awe. The New York lawyer was so inspired that she made a second Founding Donor gift to the museum. The first came through her family foundation, the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation. The second is in her name and the names of her two daughters, Leslie Lewis and Christina Lewis Halpern. “This is my contribution to my nation,” Lewis says. “The museum shows America at its finest. It recognizes the rich history of a people who have overcome so much and have reached the highest power in the land.”

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Contact

Contact Us

National Museum of African American History and Culture Campaign Officers

National Museum of African American History and Culture Council

  • Richard D. Parsons, Council Co-Chair
  • Linda Johnson Rice, Co-Chair
  • Kenneth Irvine Chenault, Campaign Chair
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra
  • Willie L. Brown, Jr.
  • Laura W. Bush
  • James Ireland Cash, Jr.
  • N. Anthony Coles
  • Brian C. Cornell
  • Ann Marie Fudge
  • Allan C. Golston
  • LaTanya R. Jackson
  • James A. Johnson
  • Robert L. Johnson
  • Quincy D. Jones
  • Ann Dibble Jordan
  • Michael L. Lomax
  • Brian T. Moynihan
  • Homer Alfred Neal
  • E. Stanley (Stan) O'Neal
  • Samuel J. Palmisano
  • General Colin L. Powell
  • Franklin D. Raines
  • Ruth J. Simmons
  • David J. Skorton, MD
  • Earl W. Stafford
  • Patricia (Patty) Q. Stonesifer
  • H. Patrick (Pat) Swygert
  • Anthony (Tony) Welters
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Robert L. Wright

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Building Goal:
$270 Million

140.5%

$379.31 Million Raised

As of June 31, 2016

Total raised for campaign: $273 million, including building goal above and $40 million for programs and acquisitions.

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