The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. temporarily closed its wing on racial segregation Wednesday, after a tourist discovered a noose on the floor of the exhibit, BuzzFeed News reported.
Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas told BuzzFeed that the noose was found near “Era of Segregation 1786-1968,” one of three history galleries in the museum. "It was rather a small rope thing and not something that would set off the magnetometers," St. Thomas said.
"Park police removed it and we reopened the gallery about an hour later," the spokeswoman added.
In an email, Smithsonian secretary David Skorton informed museum employees about the noose and called it a “deeply disturbing” discovery.
"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. We will not be intimidated," he wrote.
On Saturday, another noose — an item that has typically been used to threaten African-Americans and evoke the legacy of lynching and slavery — was found hanging Saturday from a tree outside of a different Smithsonian museum of contemporary art and sculpture. Both noose discoveries come amid concerns of increased hate crimes and racial animus, which some have attributed to the election of Donald Trump, whose victory was cheered by former klansmen and avowed white nationalists.
Trump visited the museum with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson during Black History Month in February.
St. Thomas told BuzzFeed the discovery at the NMAAHC has left her speechless. "We do consider this one to be different," she said. "In this case, it's clearly a message to the museum."