"The Museum is located on a five-acre site adjacent to the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History. This is the only national museum devoted to documenting African-American life, art, history, and culture with collections covering slavery and freedom, military engagement and reconstruction, segregation and civil rights, and cultural expressions of all forms.
The Museum’s form derives from the base and capital of the classical tripartite column, as well as the wooden posts of Yoruban architecture which often feature a crown-like top. Reaching toward the sky, the bronze-clad corona expresses faith, hope, and resiliency. Inside the building, the corona defines a perimeter around the main galleries. Daylight enters this zone through the latticed bronze cladding, washing down the wood-covered walls. At night, the corona glows, giving the museum a subtle but memorable presence on the Mall.
As part of its design process, the building’s massing was refined to reduce the above-grade bulk placing two thirds of the building’s 400,000 sf program below grade. The stacking of the building placed much of the non-daylit spaces 80 ft below, including the centerpiece of the museum, the 50,000 sf main history gallery. The museum’s bottom to top gallery relationship provides visitors a chronological experience of past, present, and future as one ascends through the structure. Veiled by the exterior Corona, above grade circulation is placed within a seven story atrium to promote views of Washington DC monuments while contextually anchoring the museum within the green space of the National Mall."
National Museum of African American History and Culture