A noose was discovered at a segregation exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, the New York Times reports. After guests found the noose within the exhibit, the section of the museum, “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968,” was closed but eventually reopened.
“It was rather a small rope thing and not something that would set off the magnetometers,” Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas told BuzzFeed News. “Park Police removed it and we reopened the gallery about an hour later.”
The context of the noose ties back to the dark history of lynching African Americans, and it is not the first time such a threatening object was found near a museum. Just last week a noose was found hanging outside another Smithsonian building, the Hirshhorn museum. The fact that a noose was now discovered inside one of the Smithsonian museums is being seen as a major concern.
“We do consider this one to be different,” St. Thomas said. “In this case it’s clearly a message to the museum.”
Park Police are currently investigating both scenarios, while counseling has been offered to museum staff. “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 J. Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian, wrote in an email.
Such a straightforward signal is startling to see in a place like a museum, but thankfully law enforcement seems dedicated to finding the culprit behind these offensive acts.