The National Museum of American History
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NMAH) maintains and preserves a collection of more than 3 million objects related to the American experience.
That scope is very broad, encompassing everything from Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to Jim Henson’s alter-ego and puppet, Kermit the Frog.
While some of the artifacts belonged to presidents (Thomas Jefferson’s portable desk on which he drafted the Declaration of Independence) and celebrities (Benny Goodman’s clarinet and Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet), others record the history and life of average Americans.
Such items include the 1874 debut model of the Remington typewriter, a John Deere Model D tractor, and the Greensboro Woolworth lunch counter where, in 1960, four African-American students sat down and asked to be served at this whites-only North Carolina establishment.
Arguably, the NMAH’s best-known artifact is the Star-Spangled Banner, the American flag that flew over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that provided the lyrics to America’s national anthem.
The flag was the symbol and centerpiece of the NMAH’s two-year, $180 million renovation and fundraising campaign. After a long stint in a conservation laboratory and now preserved in an environmentally-controlled gallery, the Star-Spangled Banner is once again on display.
Learn about ongoing events and programs and plan your visit at the National Museum of American History website. Opened in 1964 as the National Museum of History and Technology the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History was the sixth Smithsonian building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
by Katie Calvert