Visual Description | Greensboro Lunch Counter 

The Greensboro Lunch Counter is located on the second floor, west wing, in a space called Unity Square. On the western side of the space, a wall of windows faces out onto a terrace behind which are the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Washington Monument. On the eastern side of the space, the Greensboro Lunch Counter is elegantly displayed in a recessed niche with a rich purple backdrop. Three panels of solid, deep blue, window-like rollup shades run from ceiling to floor on both sides of the niche.  Spotlights dimly illuminate the exhibit, creating a warm, theatrical ambiance. The lunch counter is slightly elevated off the floor and surrounded by a clear barrier, with the reading panels attached to it. 

The lunch counter, which is an eight-foot section of the original lunch counter from Woolworth’s Department Store in Greensboro, North Carolina, has a laminated black countertop with a stainless-steel trim along the front edge facing a line of stools where customers could sit and order food and drinks from staff behind the counter. Below the countertop is a light tan wood panel outlined with black rubber edging and with a line of black rubber going down the middle of the panel. Six inches below the countertop is a shallow horizontal shelf with the same stainless-steel trim as the countertop. A black, wooden, boxed footrest extends the whole length of the base of the counter and appears to be attached.   

Four stools sit in front of the lunch counter. Two stools are salmon colored and the other two stools are greenish blue. The seat arrangement alternates colors. The stools’ seats are made of vinyl. The stools’ backrest and the frame of the seats are chrome-plated metal. The backrests are made of a middle rail with two spindles attached to a top rail that curves to connect to the chair seat. The seats have a plywood bottom and are attached to an iron tube and metal base to allow them to swivel.  

A large wall-mounted mirror behind the counter is actually a video screen designed to look like the original mirror that hung behind the counter. The screen activates every few minutes to play a video of civil rights activists talking about the sit-ins that took place at the Greensboro Woolworth’s and other locations. A strip of chrome colored metal and bright red crown molding sits atop the mirror.