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A dream for 100 years, the National Museum of African American History and Culture promises to become an instant favorite when it opens Sept. 24, its soaring spaces and magical views of the Mall a fitting setting for its tale of African American history and achievement.

Museum officials on Tuesday offered a sneak peek at the 400,000-square-foot museum, the 19th of the Smithsonian Institution, that’s next to the Washington Monument. President Obama is expected to cut the ribbon on the dramatic space, which features layers of galleries focused on slavery, segregation and the civil rights movement as well as music, entertainment, sports and politics.

Dozens of hard-hatted workers crammed the fourth-floor cultural galleries, where circular exhibition cases are being filled with objects related to food, education and sports.

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A First Look Inside The Smithsonian’s African American Museum  was originally published on