Barack Obama recently heralded a new National Black History Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Commenting that the house of history is “not just a record of tragedy, but a celebration of life,” the president broke ground on the 19th museum in the Smithsonian Institution.

He was joined by wife Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush to celebrate the start of construction on the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It will be built between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History as a seven-level structure with much of its exhibit space below ground. A bronze-coated “corona,” a crown that rises an as inverse pyramid, will be its most distinctive feature.

With exhibits ranging from a Jim Crow-era segregated railroad car to Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, there will be a place for quiet reflection and joyous celebration of Black accomplishments. One question remains: What took so long?