Smithsonian’s new African American History Museum opens in DC

FILE - In this photo Sept. 14, 2016, final preparations are being made for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. The museum opens in Washington this Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, aiming to tell the story of black people in the U.S. through compelling artifacts, yet visitors will find few personal mementos from one of the most famous and influential black Americans, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - In this photo Sept. 14, 2016, final preparations are being made for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. The museum opens in Washington this Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, aiming to tell the story of black people in the U.S. through compelling artifacts, yet visitors will find few personal mementos from one of the most famous and influential black Americans, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — The brand new National Museum of African American History and Culture is now complete and ready to welcome the public.

First proposed more than a century ago by black Civil War veterans, the NMAAHC is a testament to the perseverance of those who organized, lobbied Congress and donated money to see it built.

The half-billion museum stands in a prime spot on the national mall.  Its three-tier crown bronze design gleams alongside notable neighbors like the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

Visitors will walk through some of the darkest moments in United States history, from slavery to Jim Crow, and take in the substantial cultural, scientific, and military contributions made by Americans of color.

Opening celebrations

Enormous crowd are expected throughout the weekend, so the Smithsonian facility is planning accordingly.

On certain evenings, the museum — yes, a museum — will stay open until midnight.

Big dollar donors will get a sneak peek during receptions being held Thursday.

Expect appearances by Shonda Rhimes, Tyler Perry, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Denzel Washington, who raised $17 million for the project, reports the Washington Post.

Oprah Winfrey will also be on hand. The media titan is reportedly the single largest contributor to the museum, donating $21 million of her own money and serving on the board of directors.

On Friday, the Kennedy Center will host “Taking the Stage — Changing America.” Stars like Mary J. Blige, Usher and Jamie Foxx will perform.

Saturday is the grand opening for the public, but requires tickets which have already been issued.

Ticket info

Due to the overwhelming interest, visitors must have “timed passes for entry” to the exhibition area.

All pre-booked tickets, for groups as large as six, are already reserved through the end of October.

Some of those free tickets are now being scalped online for $200 apiece.

Soon, the NMAAHC website will begin allowing reservations for visits in November and beyond.

Last-minute visits

If you don’t have a ticket, all hope is not lost.

The museum will begin issuing same-day tickets on Monday, September 26.

Groups that show up may have to wait in a line, but they are still likely to gain entry if they’re patient enough.

NMAAHC, like other Smithsonians, will be open to the public 364 days a year.

For more information, click here.

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales

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