Tourists visiting the an exhibition on segregation at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday found a noose hanging there, the second such incident on the Smithsonian grounds this week.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the exhibit gallery was closed for three hours as police investigated the noose and removed it.

In a statement released via the museum’s official Twitter account, founding Director

Lonnie Bunch wrote:

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.

Our museum is a place of learning and solace, a place to remember, to reflect and to engage in important discussions that help change America.

This was a horrible act, but it is a stark reminder of why our work is so important.

Four days ago, a noose was found hanging on a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum. The investigation into Wednesday’s incident at NMAAHC is ongoing, but both 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,” David Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, wrote in an institutionwide 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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