National Museum of African-American History overwhelmed with visitors

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Associate Director Beverly Morgan-Welch of the National Museum of African American History and Culture knew that when the museum opened in September, there would be plenty of visitors. But what she did not expect was how long the visitors would stay, and with visitors spending hours and hours at the newly opened museum, they are actually getting a bit overwhelmed.

The “dwell time,” or the amount of time that people spend once they are inside a museum, is high, meaning they cannot let more people into the museum at a time when tickets are sold out until next spring.

“The normal dwell time for most museums is an hour 45 minutes to two hours,” explained Morgan-Welch. “Our dwell time can go to six.”

–New African-American history museum sold out through March 2017–

The excitement is palpable for visitors, many of whom arrive before dawn to get in. But not everyone can get in, and same-day passes are hard to come by, with free timed tickets being sold out online.

“People have come and arrived here as early as 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning,” she said. “Literally there are days when I come into the museum, sunglasses on, it could be overcast I’m looking down because I don’t want to look at the people standing in line. It is heartbreaking.”

Still, she said, “It’s the best, most difficult problem I’ve ever faced in a museum.”