Decades in the making, The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) officially opened its doors to the public on September 24, 2016. Contained inside are over 36,000 artifacts that document and promote the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history and is “the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture,” according to the museum’s website.
After being officially authorized for construction in 2003 by President George W. Bush, the NMAAHC did not officially break ground until 2012. Designed by the team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smithgroup, the 322,600 square feet building was built by a combination of Clark Construction Group, Smoot Construction and H.J. Russell and Company. Both Smoot and H.J. Russell are minority owned businesses and two of the largest in the country. Together, the trio the common goal of completing the $250 million dollar museum. According to the NMAAHC’s Project website, there were several small business participation goals the team had to meet:
- Small Business (SB) Contract Goal - 42%
- Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) Contract Goal - 22%
- Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Contract Goal - 10%
- Historically Underutilized Business (HUBZone) Contract Goal - 10%
- Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) Contract Goal - 5%
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Contract Goal - 5%
The foundation for the museum was dug 80 feet below grade and 70 feet of that is the lower part of the building. Of the museum’s 10 total stories, 5 are below ground and 5 are above. Concrete was first poured for the foundations in November of 2012. After roughly 4 years of construction, the building is finally complete and open to the public, standing tall in the heart of the National Mall in Washington D.C. Lucky for us, we can watch the entire construction process of the building from start to finish via EarthCam’s timelapse video uploaded to Youtube.
If you’re curious to know more about the process behind getting the museum fully approved and its cultural significance, CBS Sunday Morning put together a great piece that you can watch below. CBS SM’s Lee Cowan interviews music legend Quincy Jones and discusses the history of some of the most important artifacts in the museum. It’s truly a fascinating story and highlights some of the major struggles African Americans had to overcome in America.