June 1 (UPI) -- The Smithsonian Institution said visitors at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., found a noose at an exhibition on segregation.
In an email, Smithsonian Institution secretary David J. Skorton said he had to share the "deeply disturbing news" that visitors found the noose in the public exhibition space in front of the "Democracy Abroad. Injustice at Home" display at the "Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968" permanent exhibition on segregation.
"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," Skorton wrote.
The NMAAHC opened in September.
The U.S. Park Police is investigating the incident. The museum closed after the noose was discovered but reopened three hours later.
On Saturday, a noose was found hanging from a tree on the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution's Hirshborn Museum.
Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the NMAAHC, condemned the incident.
"The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity -- a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans. Today's incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face," Bunch said in a statement. "Our museum is a place of learning and solace, a place to remember, to reflect and to engage in important discussions that help change America."
"This was a horrible act, but it is a stark reminder of why our work is so important," Bunch added.