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Smithsonian National Museum of American History collects and preserves more than 3 million artifacts of American history and culture

David Goran

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History collects and preserves more than 3 million artifacts that represent all aspects of American life, from the War of Independence to the present day, offering a wide range of exhibits that demonstrate the diversity of America’s history and culture. Photos: Tim Evanson/Flickr

Replica of the Last Spike linking the Transcontinental Railroad

Replica of the Last Spike linking the Transcontinental Railroad

 

Nailery tools from Monticello and Buffalo Soldier sabre

Nailery tools from Monticello and Buffalo Soldier sabre

 

Silver and ruby Art Deco necklace and Lincoln White House pitcher 1861

Silver and ruby Art Deco necklace and Lincoln White House pitcher 1861

The Smithsonian museums are the most widely visible part of the United States’ Smithsonian Institution and consist of nineteen museums and galleries as well as the National Zoological Park. Seventeen of these collections are located in Washington D.C., with eleven of those located on the National Mall.

Slave manacles used at Monticello

Slave manacles used at Monticello

 

Maria Mitchell telescope 1865

Maria Mitchell telescope 1865

The Smithsonian has close ties with 168 other museums in 39 states, Panama, and Puerto Rico. These museums are known as Smithsonian Affiliated museums. Collections of artifacts are given to these museums in the form of long-term loans. The Smithsonian also has a large number of traveling exhibitions. In 2008, 58 of these traveling exhibitions went to 510 venues across the country

Arturo Toscanini batons from 1940s

Arturo Toscanini batons from the 1940s

 

Abraham Lincoln pocketwatch and fob 1850

Abraham Lincoln pocket watch and fob 1850

The museum opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology. The building was designed by the firm of McKim Mead and White. In 1980, the museum was given its present name as a means of reflecting its new mission.

Ulysses S Grant second inaugural carriage

Ulysses S Grant second inaugural carriage

 

Source Bibles and 1904 Jefferson Bible

Source Bibles and 1904 Jefferson Bible

 

Items found in slave cabins at Monticello

Items found in slave cabins at Monticello

 

George Reeves Superman costume from the 1950s

George Reeves Superman costume from the 1950s

Its collection features more than three million artifacts, including Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz, Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, Julia Childs’ kitchen, models of historic American ships, sheet music written by DC legend Duke Ellington, exhibits on the growth of American suburbia, industrialization, pre-Colombian cultures, the Civil Rights struggle, dresses of the First Ladies, or a mix of other themes and episodes. In 1912, the First Lady Helen Herron Taft had donated her gown to the museum for the First Ladies’ Gown display.

Ruby slippers and Scarecrow hat from Wizard of Oz

Ruby slippers and Scarecrow hat from Wizard of Oz

 

Aft of USS Philadelphia gunboat

Aft of USS Philadelphia gunboat

 

Bow of USS Philadelphia gunboat

Bow of USS Philadelphia gunboat

 

Model of USS Philadelphia gunboat

Model of USS Philadelphia gunboat

The museum features the most American artifact of all: the Star-Spangled Banner Flag. The flag flew above Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812, inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem and now awaits your wide eyes in an everlasting exhibition.

'The Star-Spangled Banner. Source

‘The Star-Spangled Banner. Source

The building continues to undergo significant renovations, so prime exhibits often disappear. It was extensively renovated from 2009 to 2011 with Reinvestment Act funds provided by the Obama administration.