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Smithsonian NMAAHC Galleries

Smithsonian NMAAHC Galleries

Having opened in September of 2016, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture sits on the Mall in Washington, DC, and was designed by architectural team Adjaye Associates, Freelon, and Bond/SmithGroup with Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) responsible for the exhibition design.

It was an honor to be invited to collaborate with WSDIA and the larger Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) team on the Community Galleries from initial concepts through to the design development phase. The Community Galleries consist of 25,000sf of exhibit space and were broken up into four distinct galleries: Sports, Military, Power of Place, and Making a Way Out of No Way.

Viewing the ‘Making a Way’ gallery as a central theme of the whole museum, it became a path rather than a traditional room, connecting all the other galleries together. The pathway displays how African Americans generated possibilities in a world that denied them opportunities, and it explores themes of agency, creativity, and resiliency. The physical design of the pathway display cases borrows from the language of picture frames, using the extra wide frame surfaces to display didactic information. The various sizes are modulated to respond to specific object size requirements and location.

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Project Details

Design Architect: Adjaye Associates
Architecture Team: Freelon Adjaye Bond/ SmithGroup JJR
Exhibition Design: Ralph Appelbaum Associates, WSDIA, Corey Yurkovich
Contractor/Fabricator: D&P, Hadley Exhibits, Pacific Studios, Smithsonian Channel
Consultants: Luce Group, SH Acoustics, Charles Morrow Associates
Ron Blunt, images 1,2,5,10
Alan Karchmer, images 2,4,5,10,11,12,13

SEGD Merit Award 2017 Winner