Smithsonian African-American Museum Hits Major Milestones


By Ben Thrutchley

February was a big month for the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which Kaiser Permanente has been proud to support as a founding donor. The museum celebrated its first Black History Month and welcomed its one millionth visitor since opening in September 2016—and its Sweet Home Café was nominated for the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s best new restaurant in America award. Even today – after six months of operation and hitting the milestone of one million visitors – daily entrance tickets run out within minutes of their release at 6:30 in the morning. It’s clear millions more are eager to experience its over 36,000 artifacts and tour its 400,000 square feet of total interior space.

The Kaiser Permanente Sweet Home Café has been a culinary and critical success for the museum. Large crowds fill its 400 seats every day. Even with hundreds of hungry visitors to feed, the Sweet Home Café provides a wide array of critically acclaimed and culturally rich meals, including stews, po’ boys, pepper pots, and barbeque.

The Sweet Home Café’s carefully crafted meals have earned the restaurant a spot in the James Beard Foundation’s semi-final round for the coveted Best New Restaurant in America award. This highly regarded foundation celebrates, nurtures and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone through its programs and awards. Only 25 new restaurants were selected as semi-finalists, and it is the Sweet Home Café is now positioned to move on to the final round later this year and potentially win the Best New Restaurant in America award.

Kaiser Permanente is proud to support the NMAAHC and help preserve African-American history and culture. Our contribution is part of a long tradition of celebrating our country’s rich diversity. You can learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s history of diversity and inclusion on the History of Total Health blog. For more information about Kaiser Permanente’s support for the NMAAHC click here.

Kaiser Permanente is proud to be a founding donor of the newest Smithsonian museum: The-National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC). This first-of-its-kind national museum is a testament to the African-American perspective throughout U.S. history. The museum’s history, culture and community exhibitions invite all visitors to learn about the African-American experience and how it helped shape our nation.

Take a moment to learn more about this important museum and Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing investment by the numbers.

  • $540,000,000 to construct the museum and complete exhibitions
  • 1,000,000+ total visitors since 2016
  • 400,000 sq/ft of total museum interior space
  • 36,000 artifacts available for display
  • 12,000 sq/ft dedicated to the Sweet Home Café sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and focused on traditional healthy cooking
  • 3,600 bronze-colored cast aluminum panels used to make the distinctive “Corona” exterior
  • 60% the amount of the museum below ground
  • 12 large scale exhibitions of history culture, and community
  • 9 floors of exhibition, education, dining and entertainment space
  • 5 the number of “Grand Opening Sponsors” including Kaiser Permanente
  • 1 Kaiser Permanente employee truly surprised and excited to see a display dedicated to her grandfather, Fats Waller the famous jazz pianist.

More than 70 years ago, Kaiser Permanente’s founders Henry J. Kaiser and Sidney Garfield recognized African-American employees for their invaluable contributions to the workplace. This set the foundation for our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are proud to help preserve African-American history and culture.

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