Despite CDC's new guidelines, FLOTUS Jill Biden is keeping her mask on.
We arrived outside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) at 10:10 and were immediately ushered inside.
Today is the museum’s re-opening day for the public after first closing due to COVID-19 in March.
FLOTUS walked inside shortly after at 10:12 am wearing a mask and matching navy flowered dress. She greeted the Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch, we are told.
Pool was then ushered into the lobby at 10:13 am as FLOTUS continued to speak (out of earshot of your pooler). There are a number of people here to greet FLOTUS.
FLOTUS came into the lobby shortly after at 10:15 am and those waiting clapped for her.
Bunch began speaking around 10:15 am. He called the Smithsonian an “Amazing reservoir of discovery, of wonder” and expressed excitement about the re-opening.
“We’re so honored you’re here,” he told FLOTUS.
FLOTUS began speaking just about 2 minutes later by saying “I guess I can take off my mask while I’m speaking.” Noted she’s a teacher so she felt she had to move in closer to those they’re greeting her, then did so and took off her mask.
“It felt so good to be outside and have our masks off,” she said.
“It feels so special to me and it does feel hopeful …. inch by inch we’re moving forward and we’ve got to just get this pandemic under control,” FLOTUS said. Adds we can get “back to a normal life” once more people are vaccinated.
FLOTUS brought cookies from the White House for those attending the re-opening. They’re chocolate chip.
FLOTUS ended by expressing excitement about soon hopefully opening up the White House so the workers attending the re-opening could see where she works.
FLOTUS asked if there’s time to see the Harriet Tubman exhibit around 10:25 am, and was told yes.
“You guys coming?” she asked the pool.
We were all ushered downstairs to the exhibit around 10:27 am with Bunch and Young. Bunch appeared at one point to be discussing the process of getting various artifacts and they then moved over to “The Middle Passage” portion of the exhibit, out of earshot of your pooler.
The pool was ushered into the next exhibit section around 10:29. This exhibit shows Harriet Tubman’s bible and handkerchief.
FLOTUS joined soon after at 10:30 am.
Bunch tells FLOTUS he got a call from someone in Philadelphia who said he had artifacts from Tubman.
He showed FLOTUS the hymnbook that Tubman carried with her and said the handkerchief (newer to the museum) helps to understand Tubman.
Young called the handkerchief “delicate and beautiful” and said you can see the sweat and tears.
FLOTUS, Young, and Bunch also discussed the “Point of Pines Cabin” exhibit. FLOTUS asked if anything was carved inside.
“It’s important to kind of make these objects speak and help them since,” Bunch said. Young noted that this will be added to the digital library (they’re expanding this).
“That’s one of the things about the pandemic that has to be a positive thing, that more people became more comfortable with” looking at things digitally, FLOTUS says. Bunch agreed and said they get 30 million people at the museum a year but could get way more than that online.
After her brief remarks, FLOTUS did put her mask back on for the remainder of the tour.