By: Kenon White, NewsOne
The much-anticipated opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. is just days away.
President Barack Obama will be on hand for the September 24th dedication ceremony. In preparation for the grand opening and beyond, the museum is designating today, September 13th, Giving Day.
Beverly Morgan-Welch, Executive Director at the National Museum of African American History, joined Roland Martinon NewsOne Now to discuss the upcoming grand opening of the museum and what the public can do to help.
Hyundai has partnered with the National Museum of African American History and is providing up to $500,000 in matching donations to help make Giving Day a success.
Bank of America, Kaiser Permanente, Prudential Financial Inc., Target and Toyota have each provided $2 million in sponsorships to support the grand opening and inaugural events for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Each company is a founding donor of the museum and their sponsorship not only includes support for the grand opening, but officials said it would also provide assistance for other needs that the museum may encounter.
“These corporations have been longstanding, essential partners in the campaign to build this museum,” Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the museum, said in a statement.
Morgan-Welch revealed the capital cost for the museum is approximately $500 million and they have raised $325 million of that estimated cost thus far.
At the current moment, the museum has amassed 37,000 artifacts by way of donations. Morgan-Welch said the authentication and preservation process for these items is “absolutely astronomical.” Among the thousands of artifacts are an Edisto Island SC slave cabin, a plane flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac, parts of a slave ship and many more exhibits.
But Morgan-Welch said the museum is “alive” and not just a celebration of relics. She added part of the purpose is to tell people the history of Africans in the United States, “because it’s largely unknown.”
“By having [an] object that you can see, what Harriet Tubman wore, where Nat Turner prayed, causes you to have and make your own experience,” she said.
The public is invited to gather on the Washington Monument grounds across the street from the museum to witness the ceremony on Jumbotrons. They’ll also be able to take in a three-day festival.
Congressional legislation signed by President George W. Bush in 2003 established the NMAAHC, the 19th Smithsonian museum. Groundbreaking occurred in 2012 and the museum occupies a prime location in the nation’s capital on the National Mall at the corner of Constitution Avenue at 14th Street, a short distance from the Washington Monument.
The nearly 400,000-square-foot museum will be the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American experience.
“African-American history did not stop with President Barack Obama’s election, and so we won’t stop either,” Bunch said in a televised interview this week. “There will be plenty for us to talk about in the future, and we’re looking forward to helping Americans understand the contributions of African-Americans to the rich tapestry of our culture.
To support the National Museum of African American History, visit www.givenmaahc.org.