The Great Wait: National Museum of African American History and Culture

This past weekend my sister came to visit! I normally keep a running list of things that are happening in DC and places I haven’t been so that I can throw out ideas of things to do anywhere in the city. I only have one item that is on almost every visitor’s agenda that I ask that they do without me — walking the monuments.

Why no walking the monuments? I’ve done it so many times and it normally calls for a 5-or-more mile walk depending on whether or not they decide to take the metro. If my visitors express an interest in the activity, I suggest that they go while I’m at work. If it is the weekend, I go along.

Anyway, this led to a jam packed weekend for my sister and me as we went to Gallery Place, DuPont Circle, Foggy Bottom, Eastern Market, and the Mall in just 2 days! The main item on the agenda was trying to visit the newly opened National Museum African American History and Culture. We had both read this article by the Washington post, and we decided to get up at 5:30am on a Sunday morning to try our luck.fullsizerender_1-2

We arrived at the museum around 6:15am and saw about 100 people in line. We were optimistic. We chatted with the other people in line around us, read books, and knit. It was a pleasant way to pass the time as the sun rose. Around 7:00am, I ventured off in search of food and coffee. My one warning is not to trust Google for when cafes open if you are going to try and get tickets on the weekend. I went to three coffee shops that said they opened at 7am on Sundays and they all opened at 8am. Just go to the closest Starbucks or McDonald’s you can find. There is also the option to get food at the multitude of food trucks that have set up shop on the corner where the tickets are handed out.

As we approached 9:15am, people began to get excited and the line behind us swelled. I wasn’t able to see, but I think the line went the length of the entire block. Just past 9:15, a man in a suit (who had come out some time earlier) started passing out tickets that he was holding. We inched closer and closer. Then almost as soon as it began, the line stopped. We were about 6 people from the front and the man announced that they were out of tickets. On a Sunday morning, they only passed out 129 tickets. This is compared to the average of around 10,000 visitors the museum has been seeing a day from the tickets that were up for grabs online in August.

My sister and I took our failure in stride and turned to the trusty list I had made in Google Docs to figure out which other museums we wanted to visit. We decided on the Renwick Gallery. All in all the day was still a success and we got to spend a few hours hanging out with the other hopefuls before the day began, discussing the newest building on the National Mall. We knew it was a long shot to get in, but the great thing about a Smithsonian museum is that it is free and will be there indefinitely.

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