Star-Spangled Banner Housed In New Exhibit
By Hazel M. Freeman
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington D.C., has a new gallery and exhibit, opened to the public to display one of our nations most treasured icons – the Star-Spangled Banner. The museum has constructed a custom-designed display for the flag, which recently underwent an extensive conservation treatment. The gallery is part of a two-year, $85 million renovation of the building. The makeover and reviatlization project has transformed the museum's architecture into a vibrant, state-of-the-art historical showcase for the nation.
The new permanent exhibit area will house and protect the flag while giving visitors maximum visibility. The 30 X 34-foot delicate wool and cotton flag, salvaged from the War of 1812, will reside in its new specially designed room that will be maintained at a constant temperature of 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 50%. A 35-foot floor-to-ceiling glass wall protects the tattered national symbol but allows visitors to view, learn, and be inspired by its significance.
Also available at the exhibit is a tactile image of the banner and an interactive projection of the flag that allow visitors to explore key details about the flag such as; the large hole near the center of the flag is where one of the stars was cut out and given away in the 1800’s and has never been found, and the flags original size was 30 X 42 feet but many small fragments of the flag were cut off as keepsakes in the 1800’s. When visitors leave the viewing chamber they’ll find additional exhibits on the flags history, how it was made, and the Smithsonian’s efforts over the last hundred years at preserving this special piece of American history.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History continually has a wide variety of special, limited exhibits, as well as on-going exhibits that can be seen at the museum year round such as:
· First Ladies at the Smithsonian – A display that showcases premier objects from the nearly century-old First Ladies Collection. On display are 14 elegant and beautiful dresses, including ones worn by Laura Bush, Grace Coolidge, Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Helen Taft. The exhibition also features portraits, White House china, personal possessions and related objects from the Smithsonian's unique collection of first ladies' materials.
· Bon Appetit! Julia Child’s Kitchen – When Julia Child moved back to her home state of California in 2001, she donated the kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to the Museum. You can see Julia’s actual kitchen with cabinets, cookbooks, kitchen tables and all. You can take a peek into the kitchen of one of the world’s best-known and best-loved cooks.
The museum is open every day except December 25th, and is located on 14th St. and Constitution Ave., NW in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the museum, check http://americanhistory.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000; (202) 633-5285 (TTY).