Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture: “Today's incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African-Americans continue to face.” Washington Post / Jahi Chikwendiu
Photo: The Washington Post
Photo: The Washington Post

Noose discovered at national African-American museum in Washington

Tourists at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture found a noose on Wednesday at an exhibit on segregation — the second such discovery at the Smithsonian in a week.

A Smithsonian police officer on Friday found a noose hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum.

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"The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity — a symbol of extreme violence for African-Americans,” Lonnie Bunch, director of the African-American history museum, wrote in an email to staff on Wednesday, according to Smithsonian magazine’s website. “Today's incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African-Americans continue to face.”

The Associated Press reported that the gallery containing an exhibit on segregation was closed for about three hours while U.S. Park Police investigated the incident.

“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,” Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton wrote to all employees of the Smithsonian Institution. 

“We will not be intimidated. Cowardly acts like these will not, for one moment, prevent us from the vital work we do.”

In tweets last week, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser decried the discovery of the first noose.

Meanwhile, scores of Smithsonian employees gathered outside the African-American museum Thursday to rally support for the museum.

U.S. Park Police were already investigating the discovery of the noose at the Hirshhorn, which features contemporary art and culture. Now they have a second discovery to deal with.

Note: Commenting on this article is being moderated by AJC editors.

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