Museum Renovation

The transformation of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History continues with a major project to renew the building’s 120,000-square-foot west exhibition wing. The plans feature new galleries, an education center, and interior public plazas and performance spaces, as well as modernizing the infrastructure in this section of the building. A new panoramic window on the first floor will give a sweeping view of the Washington Monument and connect visitors to the National Mall's landmarks.

Click here to learn about exhibitions and spaces closed due to construction.

National Museum of American History Builds Towards the Future!


See the slideshow on Flickr

The National Museum of American History is leading the way in how history museums present the compelling ideas and ideals that make America unique by developing new exhibitions and programs with intellectual depth. The museum underlines the extraordinary experiment—Of the People, By the People, For the People—that has reverberated through the centuries—grounded in freedom, possibility, and opportunity, tempered by conflict, and strengthened by dissent and difference.

Exhibitions, engaging multimedia, and provocative programs presented in special spaces designated for public discourse and worldwide webcast/broadcast will introduce and interweave key themes such as Innovation, Democracy, Migration/Immigration and Culture. Visitors will expand their understanding of how American Identity has evolved and keeps renewing itself, imbued with a recognizable spirit of self-determination, risk-taking, and perseverance.


1st Floor

Theme: Innovation

Illuminates how America provides a fertile environment for converting new ideas into realities within its social, legal, and financial systems, and embraces a culture that rewards risk-taking and tolerates failure.

Opening Date: July 4, 2015

Exhibitions:
    • Mars Hall of American Business - American Enterprise
    • Gallery of Numismatics - The Value of Money
    • Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Hall of Invention and
       Innovation - Places of Invention / Inventive Minds
    • Education Center
           o Spark!Lab
           o Wonder Workshop
           o Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project
           o Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
           o SC Johnson Conference Center
    • Archives Center
    • Dibner Library

Programming:
Food demonstrations, dramatic historic presentations, lectures on capitalism, science, and technology—all related to Innovation—occur in a specially designed kitchen stage and performance space.


2nd Floor

Theme: The Nation We Build Together

Demonstrates the nation’s shared belief in the sovereignty of the people, and recognizes the result of distinct peoples meeting, mingling, and creating a rich cultural diversity.

Opening Date: July 4, 2016

Exhibitions:
    • American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
    • Many Voices, One Nation
    • The Taubman Gallery - for changing exhibitions    

Programming:
Public discourse at the National level takes place in Liberty Square exploring themes related to Democracy, Immigration, and discovering What it Means to be American.


3rd Floor

Theme: American Culture

Shows that a uniquely American identity in attitude, approach, and style emerge when we examine the sphere where culture makers and audiences meet.

Opening Date: July 4, 2017

Exhibitions:
    • Hall of American Culture
    • Hall of Culture & the Arts - Changing Galleries

Programming:
American Identity rings through the sounds of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and other American musical expressions in our new Hall of Music (see preview video below).

architect renderings of the new Hall of Music

Renovation Impact

During the west wing construction, the Museum’s center core and east wing will remain open. However, a number of exhibitions have moved or closed:

Moved

  • The First Ladies: This brand new exhibition is in the Rose Gallery (3rd Floor Center)
  • Julia Child's Kitchen: The kitchen has moved to a new location and is featured prominently in a new exhibition, FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950 – 2000 on 1st Floor East.
  • The Dolls' House: This popular item has moved to the 1st Floor West.
  • Pop Culture items: Visitors can see Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Miss Piggy from the Muppets, Archie Bunker’s chair, and other items in our new signature exhibition, American Stories.

Closed