On this dayMay 31, 2017

Noose Found At National Museum of African American History and Culture

Image |  George Rose, Getty Images

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opened in Washington, D.C. in fall 2016, “devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.” On May 31, 2017, a visitor to the museum found a noose – a threatening symbol of racial terror lynchings – left by an unknown party inside of an exhibition on segregation.

The NMAAHC is part of the federally-administered Smithsonian Institution, and the noose was the second found on Smithsonian grounds that week; five days prior, a noose was discovered hanging on a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum, which collects and displays contemporary art. Additional nooses were found in public spaces across the country during the spring of 2017, and many people associated the acts with rising violence and intolerance toward immigrants and people of color following the 2016 presidential election.

“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity -- a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans.” NMAAHC founding director Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch III said in a statement released after the noose’s discovery inside the museum. “Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face.”

The NMAAHC continues to thrive as a cultural site and depository. Today the museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and welcomed millions of visitors.

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