Thursday, July 3, 2014

Massive Star-Spangled Banner a highlight of the Smithsonian — and that's not weird

Photo courtesy Smithsonian
The last time we visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum ofAmerican History was back in 2009, and we enjoyed Julia Child’s entire kitchen, as in her entire kitchen, on display as part of the exhibition Bon Appétit! Julia Child’sKitchen at the Smithsonian. Child donated her 14-foot by 20-foot kitchen from her Cambridge, Mass., home in 2001 when she moved to California. Smithsonian curators and historians carefully disassembled the kitchen, packed up the pieces and reassembled them expertly within the Washington, D.C., museum, down to the exact placing of Child’s refrigerator magnets.
Photo courtesy Smithsonian
The National Museum of American History had just reopened after a two-year renovation in which a new grand staircase and skylight was added to the museum’s core and the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired the National Anthem, received a more appropriate environmentally-sensitive gallery with an expanded exhibit.The 200-year-old Star-Spangled Banner flag stretches 30 feet by 34 feet but was originally 42 feet long; over the years the owner cut swatches from the giant flag to give to people as souvenirs.
On this July Fourth weekend we encourage you dear readers to visit Washington, D.C., and take in this magnificent flag that inspired our national anthem, a massive undertaking back in the day and also impressive to be so faithfully restored.
A docent explains size of Star Spangled Banner
While you're there, check out the weird items the museum has collected over the years, ranging from pop culture to a mailbox collected from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. One of the museum’s goals is to collect living history as well as objects from the distant past. Some of the articles on display include Jerry Seinfeld’s “puffy shirt,” Kermit the Frog, Cheech and Chong’s Los Chochinos record album (for you Baby Boomers, that’s the one with the pot in the side of the car), Minnie Pearl’s hat and a section of the Greensboro, N.C., lunch counter that inspired sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement. A current addition to the collection was the costumes from the X-Men series. 
Photo courtesy Smithsonian
The most popular exhibits in the National Museum of American History, we were told, are the Star-Spangled Banner flag, the Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz and the First Lady gowns
Did you know?
There are 200 curators working at the National Museum of American History, all examining different subjects of the nation’s history.
 Julia Child’s maple kitchen countertops are a few inches higher than standard counters to suit her 6-foot, 2-inch height. 
 President Lyndon Johnson often walked to the National Museum of American History from the White House to enjoy the museum and to greet people.
            The Museum owns three million objects.

            Happy Fourth of July everyone!

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