(WUSA)

A noose was found Wednesday in a public gallery at the National Museum of African American History and Culture museum, the second such incident on Smithsonian grounds in less than a week, officials said.

David J. Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, said in an email announcement that he had to share “deeply disturbing news” that the rope was found in an public exhibition space Wednesday afternoon. It was in the Segregation Gallery on the second floor of the history galleries.

“The Smithsonian family stands together in condemning this act of hatred and intolerance, especially repugnant in a museum that affirms and celebrates the American values of inclusion and diversity,” Skorton wrote.

Skorton added that the incident is being investigated by U.S. Park Police. Spokeswoman Sgt. Anna Rose said that police are investigating but she provided no further details.

Police officials said a noose was found hanging from a tree Saturday on the grounds of the Hirshhorn Museum.

“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity — a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans. Today’s incident was a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face,’’ Lonnie Bunch III, the museum’s founding director, said in a statement.

“This was a horrible act, but a stark reminder of why our work is so important,” Bunch said.

Authorities closed a portion of the galleries for nearly three hours as police and the Smithsonian Office of Protection Services investigated, Bunch said in an email to staff.