Museum leaders have acquired approximately 40,000 objects, of which some 3,500 will be on view. Here are 36 of the most emotionally and historically resonant treasures in the collection that no visitor should miss.
Underground, a stark path winds chronologically and unflinchingly from slavery through civil rights and beyond. Aboveground, bold, busy galleries celebrate some of the cultural contributions African Americans have made to the country and the world.
By Aaron Steckelberg, Bonnie Berkowitz and Denise Lu