The National Museum of African American History and Culture won’t open until 2016, but bits of its growing collection are now available to the public at the museum’s temporary home within the National Museum of American History. This exhibit, “Through the African-American Lens,” is confined to one small gallery; while representing everything from the Harlem Renaissance to the civil rights era to religious movements proved tricky, curators succeeded in getting 140 items into the space. Familiar faces, like track star Carl Lewis and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, appear, but the more compelling stories are the lesser known ones. Take the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment (less frequently remembered than the 54th Volunteer Regiment, remembered in the film Glory and in a large relief on Boston Common), whose black members risked being sold into slavery while attempting to free enslaved people in the South during the Civil War, for example. Few photos of the group exist, so if these are the kinds of treasures the new museum’s curators will dig up, 2016 can’t come soon enough. The exhibition is on view daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 633-1000. americanhistory.si.edu.