On Wednesday afternoon, tourists visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture found a noose in an exhibition on segregation. Park police came to investigate and removed the noose, and the exhibit gallery was reopened within three hours, Smithsonian officials said.
“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity—a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans. Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face,” wrote Lonnie Bunch, the director of the museum, in an e-mail to staff.
The disturbing incident comes only four days after a noose was found hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum. The investigation into the noose found at NMAAHC is ongoing, but the public and staff have been assured that the museum is safe.
“The Smithsonian family stands together in condemning this act of hatred and intolerance, especially repugnant in a museum that affirms and celebrates the American values of inclusion and diversity,” wrote the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton in an Institution-wide email. “We will not be intimated. Cowardly acts like these will not, for one moment, prevent us from the vital work we do.”
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