African American Museum overwhelmed with visitors

As it turns out, the National Museum of African American History and Culture may be a little too popular.

According to Associate Director Beverly Morgan-Welch, since opening in September, the museum has amassed a large number of visitors, so many that free timed passes to check out the museum are now booked through March 2017 and lines are out the door. And while that’s a good problem to have in one way, the amount of time visitors are spending in the museum isn’t necessarily conducive to allowing in more visitors.

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

With upwards of a whopping six hours being spent in the massive museum, Morgan-Welch said they’re limited in how many people they can let in per day.

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

Morgan-Welch said excitement for the museum can bring visitors to it before the crack of dawn.

“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.”

The museum is already working to keep hopeful visitors from hanging outside all hours in the winter. They plan to offer same-day and next-day passes online, and the museum is preparing to reopen timed entry passes for spring and summer in the next few weeks. But, Morgan-Welch is hoping people won’t be too eager to try and snatch up more than they need.

“These time passes are free,” she said. “So whenever you give something for free, people take more than they can use.”

Have you visited the museum already? If so, when do you plan to?