The New York Times recounts the intense lobbying and fundraising effort that produced the National Museum of African American History and Culture opening September 24 in Washington.
The $540 million museum was authorized by President George W. Bush in 2003 after years of racially charged Congressional debate. Alongside a political fight to locate the institution on the National Mall alongside its most prominent Smithsonian peers, museum leaders mounted a drive to raise half the construction cost that drew unprecedented support from African-American celebrities, churches, and membership organizations along with broad corporate and foundation backing.
Drawing on interviews with several major players — including founding director Lonnie Bunch III, whose political savvy is credited by many with bringing the museum to fruition — the article relates how proponents of the museum won over critics, secured federal funding from a Republican-controlled Congress, and built its collection from scratch.
Smithsonian officials announced last week that they would extend opening hours in the new museum’s first week and make available 80,000 additional entry passes due to huge demand, reports The Washington Post.