National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC, USA
americanhistory.si.edu - 1-202- 633-1000
National Museum of American History Washington Reviews
Interesting museum on American history Jul 15, 2016
Located in the National Mall, the National Museum of American History is a Smithsonian museum that focuses on American history. But not just the things you learn in history class, but also other aspects that gets into living in America, and how it affects daily lives within the US.
There are entrances on both sides of the building, but I think the main one is on the National Mall side. Once you enter, you will see that there is a lot to see, that it would be impossible to see it all within one visit. So don’t even try, otherwise you will burn out! I would say, about 2 to 3 hours is good enough. And a good option to take cover from bad weather outside.
The only permanent exhibition that I know for sure, having seen this one in 2 different visits, is the First Ladies exhibit. The most notable of all, as it contains the artifacts and dresses of the First Ladies that they have worn at the inaugurations of the Presidents. So who is a First Lady? The hostess of the White House, usually the wife of the President. A nice exhibition to check out, and seeing the other side of the American Presidency.
Speaking of which, there is “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden”, which just had a bunch of artifacts that once belonged to a US President themselves, or a family member of one.
There are other exhibitions that got into daily lives of regular Americans, like the “Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000”. This one gets into how food was prepared over the years, and the different occasions for American families. There is a display of Julia Child’s kitchen there. Also, there is “America on the Move”, on the history of transportation.
These are only a small sample of things to see in this museum. There are a lot more to see! Definitely interesting enough to spend an entire day, if one wants to. Definitely pick up a map, and decide which exhibitions that may interest you the most, and focus on those.
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First Ladies Inaugural Gowns Jul 19, 2012
This museum surprised me greatly. I had all but passed it for later because my husband said it was filled with more to read than see; evidently he was wrong. After two visits to the Natural History Museum, we finally made to the Museum of American History with only 2 hours before closing.
As with all the museums and public buildings in DC, security was active, we went through easily and started our tour on the second floor where the inaugural dresses of the first ladies are. I think it was the advertising poster on the museum's sign that attracted me. Mitchell Obama's inaugural dress was use don the poster.
The room is kept darker than normal to help preserve the color of the dresses, but the lighting is sufficient for one to really appreciated the details of each dress.
Besides the dresses, are dinner ware chosen by the different first ladies to be used during their husbands term in office. I appreciated the one chosen by Mrs. Reagan; beautiful red and gold.
There is so much to be seen, unfortunately we did not budget enough time to go through it all. We managed t have a drink and cookies at one of the two cafes in the museum. The one at the lower level was already closed by the time we though of coffee.
Highly recommended for all groups of travel, children and students of history would really appreciated this museum.
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The National Museum of American History Reopens Dec 15, 2008
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has been called “America’s Attic.” The museum on the National Mall definitely exhibits an eclectic collection of artifacts dealing with American political, social, and cultural history.
First opened in 1964, the National Museum of American History reopened in December 2008 following a two year closure for renovation. A new central skylight and atrium opens up four floors of the museum, though it meant removal of the popular Foucault pendulum.
The exhibit space at the museum has been redesigned into theme areas. Rather than trying to present a linear history of the USA, the exhibits tie together artifacts representing the American experience in a variety of areas through time. The them galleries include “America on the Move” (Transportation), Science and Innovation, American Lives, American Ideals, Entertainment, Sports, and Music, and American Wars and Politics.
“Landmark Objects” anchor the two wings of each floor and introduce the themed exhibits. The objects include Horatio Greenough’s monumental sculpture of a seated George Washington, the 1831 John Bull steam locomotive, the telescope used by America’s first woman astronomer, Clara Barton’s Red Cross ambulance (wagon), Disney’s Dumbo, and the lunch counter from the 1960 Greensboro, NC, civil rights sit-in. (The 1841 statue of George Washington wearing a toga and sitting Zeus-like is one of my favorite objects in this museum.)
The signature artifact on display at the museum is the original Star-Spangled Banner, the American flag that flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the British bombardment in 1814. It is the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write his poem that became the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the national anthem of the USA. The museum’s renovation has created a new display area for the flag.
The museum is far from stuffy. Items of popular culture on display include the Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, a Dumbo ride car from Disneyland, Elvis’ guitars, one of singer Celia Cruz’s dresses, and Julia Child’s Kitchen from the TV cooking show. An always popular exhibit is the display of the First Ladies’ inaugural ball gowns.
I do find that displays tend to reflect whatever subjects the curators happen to be interested in at the time or outside sources of financing will fund. Some exhibits, like the one on Rachel Carson’s work on pesticide control, don’t appear to have been refreshed in many years.
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