A new Smithsonian museum dedicated to telling the history of African-Americans lit up the National Mall on Monday night as historical images related to the Civil War, the abolition of slavery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act were projected onto the facade of the five-story building. Called the National Museum of African American History and Culture, it is slated to open next fall.
Early in the evening, families with young children laid blankets on the Mall. They were eventually joined by couples huddled over coffee cups and students with helmets strapped to their backpacks. Triumphant music boomed while the seven-minute video projection flashed images of a stoic Harriet Tubman, a bus that had been set on fire during the Freedom Rides, newspaper headlines announcing that blacks had received the right to vote and signs from the current Black Lives Matter protests.
Live music and dramatic readings accompanied the display, which was meant to start a countdown to the museum’s official opening. Evening joggers stopped to take in the festivities, volunteers gave out commemorative posters and a pop-up gift shop sold trinkets and little teddy bears wearing “NMAAHC” T-shirts.
The video projection, organized by the filmmaker Stanley Nelson and co-produced by Marcia Smith, his wife, will be shown in a continuous loop from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 17 and 18.