When the African American Museum Offered Free Tickets Online, They Sold Out in Minutes

It was the first day offering same-day passes online.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photo Tony Hisgett, via Wikimedia Commons.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photo Tony Hisgett, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture continues to be the hottest museum ticket in the nation.

When the museum offered 880 free passes to visit the museum on Monday, they were snapped up at a rate of 220 a minute, disappearing in just 240 seconds, reports the Washington Post.

Attendance at the museum since its September opening has numbered more than 643,000, adds the paper, for an average of about 7,000 a day. By the time the museum opened, weekend tickets were sold out through Christmas.

A detail of the facade of the museum. Photo John Sonderman, via Flickr.

A detail of the facade of the museum. Photo John Sonderman, via Flickr.

Monday marked the first day that the museum used an online ticketing system for same-day ticketing rather than simply distributing tickets to visitors who waited in line. The tickets were snatched up right away when they became available at 6:30 am, reports the Post.

The museum, which garnered a rave review from the New York Times‘s Holland Cotter, was designed by the Tanzanian-born British architect David Adjaye on a budget of $540 million. Speaking at the museum’s inauguration about the complicated history it preserves and interprets, President Barack Obama noted, “This is the place to understand how protest and love of country don’t merely coexist but inform each other.”

Among the museum’s high-profile founding donors are Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Oprah Winfrey, and its collections are built in part by donations from everyday African-Americans who turned over artifacts from their families’ histories.


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