A new Smithsonian museum, slated to open this fall, holds the promise of teaching a  part of the African-American culture and adding historical facts to the country’s race discussion, according to a museum executive.

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The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is expected to open on Sept. 24. (Photos by Rob Roberts)

Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open Sept. 24, gave a walk-through tour on July 19. So far, approximately 40 percent of the exhibitions selected for the museum are in place.

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Image of an exhibit that will be featured in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. The museum is scheduled to open on Sept. 24. (Photos by Rob Roberts)

This is a, “Place where people will wrestle with questions that they won’t wrestle with anywhere else,” Bunch said. “Help people understand that this museum helps you wrestle with a fuller understanding of America’s identity and a fuller understanding of America’s notion of living up to the state of its ideals.”

According to Bunch, the museum will show Black history from before slavery until president day. “We’ve already collected Black Lives Matter, we’ve collected Ferguson, we’ve collected Baltimore. There is a lot of material that we will continue to collect that will show up in changing exhibitions and other galleries,” he said.

“This is a museum that looks at American culture through African American history, so obviously those discussions are at the heart of what we are, but we are not the race conscious museum,” Bunch told the AFRO. “We are a museum that says the only way that you can understand America is by understanding the African American experience.”

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Image of an exhibit that will be featured in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. The museum is scheduled to open on Sept. 24. (Photos by Rob Roberts)

The initial thought and development of the museum started 11 years ago, Bunch said. Development also included the curators, along with himself, interviewing the public for two years to determine how the museum should be constructed.

The museum’s floors will carry a varied view of the Black American’s experience, including insights on slavery with an actual slave cabin from Edisto Island, S.C., one of the state’s sea islands that is part of Charleston County. The museum will also feature a Tuskegee Airman’s plane; a segregated train car; a cell from Angola Prison in Louisiana; George Clinton’s P-Funk Mothership; artifacts from Black Hollywood, including costumes and play bills; and an interactive hub that will enable customers to share their stories and learn from the stories of others. The exhibitions maneuver around the theme of “making a way out of no way” to tell the intimate stories of Black people throughout several different periods in America. Bunch said that the entire space will be used to show the mass public about the Black American’s experience. Artifacts not on display will be held at a separate location in Maryland.

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Image of an exhibit that will be featured in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. The museum is scheduled to open on Sept. 24. (Photos by Rob Roberts)

“Our goal is to use the exhibitions as a point of departure to raise issues,” Bunch said. “We’re not giving simple answers to complex questions. We’re saying race is difficult and here is a history of how we explored that, successfully or not successfully. Our goal is, by weaving in contemporary issues, to help the public realize that this is not a place about yesterday. It is a place about yesterday, today and tomorrow and that means ambiguity, that means controversy, that means different issues. Our goal is pretty simple, this museum has to contribute to making America better, if it doesn’t do that, then why do we do it?”

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Image of an exhibit that will be featured in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. The museum is scheduled to open on Sept. 24. (Photos by Rob Roberts)

According to Bunch, the museum’s location on the National Mall contributes to its educational foundation as well.

”Giving people the opportunity to recognize that the mall is sacred space. So much of African American history has occurred on the mall, whether it’s the March on Washington, the fact that there are mixed race communities that lived on the site, the fact that within blocks of this site were slave pens during the 1850s, so we actually created a space where people can walk out an enjoy the view.”

In addition to the view, the museum will have 134 media pieces on various events and artistic expressions, including riots, plays and a recreation of baseball stadium.

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Image of an exhibit that will be featured in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. The museum is scheduled to open on Sept. 24. (Photos by Rob Roberts)

“All exhibitions really treat the African American culture as a way of bringing people together, but also as a way of progress and reflecting the social and cultural time,” said Dwandalyn R. Reece, curator of Music and Performing Arts.