National Museum of African American History and Culture

Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. The museum helps all Americans see how their stories, their histories, and their cultures are shaped and informed by global influences. It explores what it means to be an American and shares how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture.

RAA designed twelve galleries, taking visitors on a journey that is rooted in history, embraced by community, and celebrating culture. The “History” galleries cover 400 years of America’s history: Slavery and Freedom, the Era of Segregation, and Beyond 1968. The “Community” galleries tell the stories of Making a Way Out of No Way, the Power of Place, Military History, and Sports. The “Culture” galleries present Cultural Expressions, Taking the Stage, Musical Crossroads, and Visual Arts.

The overall response to the Museum has been enormous, with visitation topping 1 million visitors in little over four months after it opened. In addition to increased numbers of visitors, people are engaged three to four times longer than the average museum visit, for durations of six to eight hours.


Freelon Group / Adjaye Associates / David Brody Bond



85,000 square feet

  • Red Dot Award,

  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC) Award, Gold to WSP – Parsons Brinckerhoff, 

  • Contract Magazine, Interiors Award - Civic / Public,

  • Washington Building Congress, Craftsmanship Award Winner: to RAA's consultant Mona Electric Group,

  • Fast Company Innovation by Design Award, Spaces, Places, and Cities - Honorable Mention,

  • Industrial Designers Society of America, International Design Excellence Award: Award Finalist,

  • The Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD), Merit Award,

  • International Design Communication Awards, Gold, Best Scenography for a Permanent Collection,

  • Graphis, Design Annual 2017 Award: Exhibit, Silver,

  • 24th Annual THEA Award, Outstanding Achievement: Museum,

© 2014, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.