WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will open its doors to the public on Saturday at 10 a.m. It’s a celebration of history that’s so popular, tickets are sold out until November.

President Obama–accompanied by former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton–will officially open the museum to America and to the world. Thousands of people are expected.

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“Our nation’s newest landmark was created to be a beacon that reminds us of what we were, what challenges we still face and point us towards what we can become,” said David J. Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian.

It is an architectural wonder, rising up over Constitution Avenue. Its bronze crown is a nod to Nigerian royalty; the stark contrast of alabaster white monoliths that surround the structure.

The building brings color to that corner, as does the museum’s contents.

Artifacts in the museum bring to life things we’ve only heard about or read about in history books–like the shackles from a slave or a cradle from a slave cabin.

In all, there are 400,000 square feet of space. Some of it is vast and imposing; others very close and personal.

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Lead architect Phil Freelon also worked on the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore.

“We hope that visitors come and experience the exhibits, the building and all that there is to offer, and that would change them in some way–they would learn something or feel something that would make a difference in their lives moving forward,” said Freelon.

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Founding director of the museum Dr. Lonnie Bunch said his job was to create a space and fill it with artifacts that told the unvarnished truth of African Americans–from tragedy to triumph–but most of all, to tell a part of forgotten history.

“This museum tries to fulfill the dreams of so many generations, who believe that America would be made better if it understood, if it grappled with, if it immersed itself in the African American experience,” Dr. Bunch said.

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For more information about grand opening weekend, CLICK HERE.

Vic Carter