Washington, D.C. breaks ground today for brand new National Museum of African American History and Culture

african american history This morning, Washington, D.C. held a groundbreaking ceremony for their brand new National Museum of African American History and Culture that will be the Smithsonian Institution’s 19th museum. The event, attended by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, marked Black History Month by celebrating a new kind of history museum that looks to educate people through a candid representation of African American life, art and culture.

Says Museum Director Lonnie Bunch, “What this museum can do is if we tell the unvarnished truth in a way that’s engaging and not preachy, what I think will happen is that by illuminating all the dark corners of the American experience, we will help people find reconciliation and healing.”

While the project won’t be completed until 2015, you can still visit the National Museum’s current gallery at the Smithsonian (shown above). Until October 14, 2012, visitors can view the exhibition, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.” The showcase tells the story of President Thomas Jefferson and his conflicting roles of being a slave owner and an anti-slavery advocate. It’s a good example of the museum telling the kinds of stories that are often seen as taboo, but are important to get out to the public.

The seven-level museum will feature architecture and decor inspired by African culture and will eventually feature exhibits on military history, sports, pop culture and music, including items like Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, a Jim Crow-era segregated railroad car, and much more. So far, $100 million has been raised in private funds, and the museum will now begin attempts to raise public funds in order to meet their $250 million goal.

For more information on the National Museum of African American History and Culture, click here.