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New Smithsonian Will Keep the Dream Alive

African American history building to open in 2015

Lonnie Bunch National Museum African American History Culture Washington DC Smithsonian portrait

Lonnie Bunch III, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. — Linda Davidson/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture is scheduled to open next door to the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., in 2015, and Director Lonnie Bunch III says the hard work toward opening is well under way.

"The power of museums is the power of the authentic," Bunch explains when asked about the types of exhibits visitors should expect. "Our challenge is to find the right balance between technology and innovation and the good-old traditional artifacts."

Bunch says the new museum will encompass the complicated tragedies and triumphs of African Americans in America.

"We have to have faith in people's ability to recognize and accept how difficult this history is," says Bunch. "One of the great strengths of America is wrestling with its past and obviously coming up and making great change. It's a museum that should make you cry, feel sad over segregation or discrimination — but you should also find the joy of the kind of resiliency and the optimism in this community."

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