National Museum of African American History and Culture



Location: 1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560

“The 420,000 square foot building has a three-tiered inverted step pyramid shape and is inspired by the Yoruban Caryatid, a traditional wooden column which features a crown or corona at its top. Reaching toward the sky, the corona expresses faith, hope and resiliency. The above-ground floors are surrounded by the unique bronze-colored cast aluminum architectural scrim of 3,600 panels. Internal to the building, the corona forms a perimeter zone which surrounds the primary galleries. Daylight enters this zone through patterned openings in the bronze cladding and through skylights. At night, the corona glows, presenting stunning views of the museum from a variety of vantage points in and around the Mall.

The museum’s distinctive form draws on familiar imagery from both African and American history, paying homage to the intricate ironwork that was crafted by enslaved African Americans in Louisiana, South Carolina, and elsewhere in the American south.”


“A wooden sculpture by Nigerian artist Olowe Of Ise wears a crown on which the museum’s design is based.”


Photo credit:
Photo credit: Africa Access