The National Museum of African American History and Culture marked a major milestone this year by becoming the nation’s largest cultural destination devoted to documenting the African American experience and impact on world history.
And one very special visitor helped usher in another significant milestone for the museum on Saturday.
Just before opening, visitors were already queued up for an immersive walk back through time and the experience that awaits them. But one woman, Marcie Wiliams, would be getting a bit of a different experience.
“You are our 10 millionth visitor to the museum,” the museum’s Deputy Director Michelle Commander said when they met.
“Oh really!” Williams replied, as other visitors applauded around her.
The milestone came just under a week after Sept. 24, when the NMAAHC celebrated seven years since it opened in 2016.
“Our 10 millionth visitor is a symbol of our enduring purpose, and a tribute to the efforts of the past seven years, not to mention the century-long struggle for a monument to African American sacrifice and achievement on the National Mall,” Kevin Young, the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Andrew W. Mellon Director, said in a press release.
“Honoring the past while providing a platform, on site and online, for visitors to explore the present and imagine the future is a defining aspect of our work.”
Williams has visited the museum a handful of times since it opened.
“Yeah, this is like my fourth or fifth visit,” she laughed.
It usually takes more than one visit to take it all in, and on Saturday, it was more than a place to just stroll.
“We have a book club meeting in the restaurant, and then we were going to tour. So I was getting all excited, ‘Oh, we’re gonna get somebody to tour!’” Williams said.
The permanent collection of over 42,000 items related to the life, history and culture of African Americans has become a nexus for discussions, research and memories for people of all races.
“First time I came, I came with my family and I cried, I’m gonna be honest with you. I was a little overwhelmed,” Williams said.
But on Saturday, there were only smiles–and a gift bag with a certificate, a mug and a one-year membership to the museum.
“Plus they said there was new stuff!” she laughed.
The museum has been popular since it opened, with tickets going so fast that it reached 1 million visitors less than six months after it opened to the public.
More information about the museum, including free pass reservations and information about hours during a potential government shutdown, is available on its website.