Extended hours, extra passes for new Smithsonian museum opening

WASHINGTON — The newest Smithsonian Museum is offering visitors another chance to get the hottest ticket in town.

Entry passes for the opening weekend of the National Museum of African American History and Culture vanished in less than 15 minutes after reservations opened online and by telephone.

Now, the museum is extending its hours and offering more than 80,000 additional timed entry passes.

“People will be able to go online or call and get passes,” said the museum’s Beverly Morgan-Welch. “So many want to visit,” she said. The museum will open on Sept. 24. President Barack Obama will lead the dedication ceremony and cut the opening ribbon. The museum will be open until 8 p.m. on opening day.

The schedule for opening weekend is:

  • Saturday, Sept. 24: 1 p.m to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 25: 7 a.m. to midnight

Extended hours after opening weekend are:

  • Monday-Friday, Sept. 26 to 30: 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 1: 10 a.m. to midnight
  • Sunday, Oct. 2: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

On Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 9 a.m. people will be able to get timed entry passes for Sept. 24 to Oct. 2.

Free timed passes are required for entrance into the museum. There’s no limit on how long visitors may stay inside.

Same-day passes will be available beginning Sept. 26. These can be obtained in person at the museum starting at 9:15 a.m.

For more information on obtaining entry passes, go to the museum’s website.

“We were concerned we would have these long lines of people waiting outside the museum,” Morgan-Welch said. “You have to get in line, go through a security screening, and the last thing you want is people who are disappointed and standing in line by the thousands.”

She said it will also allow the museum to control the flow of people through its five floors, 12 exhibitions and 3,000 objects on display.

Some may be overwhelmed with emotion, and the museum staff has been trained to handle that. Morgan-Welch said people have been waiting a long time for this museum to open.

“This museum has been so many years in the minds and hearts and dreams of people,” she said, “We know for at least 100 years from veterans of the Civil War.”

Large crowds are expected for the dedication ceremony and for “Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration,” a free three-day music festival running from Sept. 23 to Sept. 25.

The public may watch the ceremony from the grounds of the Washington Monument, and on Jumbotrons around the site.

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