The museum was originally opened back in 1998. Back then its artifacts and memorabilia were crammed into 700 square feet of space. Thirteen years and $5 million later, the new 5,000 square foot repository honoring the 209,000 145 black soldiers and sailors who fought for the union is opening once again.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says the timing to the anniversary is meaningful.
"Well absolutely, what better occasion were celebrating the fact that African Americans stood up and fought for freedom in this nation," says Gray.
Located in the northwest neighborhood named for Col. Robert Gould Shaw, the white commander of the all black Massachusetts 54th regiment, the museum features the country's largest collection of documents, military artifacts, and photographs related to black civil war soldiers.
"On the outside there's not much, but when you go inside you fee a gush of history," says Ashen Askew, who came dressed as a union solider.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and closed on Mondays.