Spoiler alert: If you aren't caught up on your Game of Thrones viewing, there may be a few surprises inside.Even though it's...
Phyllis Diller, the groundbreaking stand-up comic, would have been celebrating her 100th birthday on July 17, 2017. The Smithsonian honored...
America has long been home to enthusiastic movie fans. Even back in the 1910s and 1920s, a period in American film history known as the "...

Blog

A wooden case with the cover pushed to the side. Inside there is a metal dish attached to a stick with purple strings.
Working with museum collections, I am often reminded that the names we attach to objects can reflect powerful social and political forces....
An object that is a circle with alternating white and green bands. In the middle is a red circle with M&D and the universal medical sign in it. There is a bronze-colored part sticking out of the bottom with a hole in it.
While walking alongside a street or through a parking lot, do you ever notice the different signs adorning cars? Bumper stickers are the...
A double black and white image of a number of adults in a parlor surrounding an infant in a blanket. The central man is holding some sort of strap with a hook in his hands that is attached to the cloth the baby is lying in.
Parents today proudly announce the weight of each new child, along with the baby's height, name, and sex. When did the practice of weighing...
A lunchbox with a rectangular base and a curved top. It has a red handle and metal clasps. Its surface depicts a barren landscape with a starry night sky. A futuristic silver van on many wheels drives across the front. On the side, one can see two people with their arms raised. A giant green monster stands in front of them.
First, they crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, sometime in July 1947. Then they crashed into our lunch boxes and our lives.Our imaginations...
Postcard-sized illustration in color featuring three children. Two little boys light fireworks and play with toy soldiers while a little girl covers her ears and clutches a doll. Text reads "Wishing you a glorious 4th of July" in gold.
"The coming stupendous holocaust, caused by the sky-rocket, the giant fire cracker and the toy pistol, that leaves an annual trail of...
A horizontal glass bottle with metal machinery inside. There is wiring, a semicircular object, and a glass spout on one end with a tube attached below it filled with a black substance. Above, there is an object that is shaped like an golden, upside-down light bulb.
Vacuum technology is fascinating to me. Unfortunately for my house, I'm talking about a vacuum defined by the absence of matter, not the...
A picture of a large bell on wooden supports. There is a metal wheel next to it on its large frame
For several decades after the Revolution, Paul Revere was as famous for his church bells as for his midnight ride. His role as a horse-...
A loaf of bread on a wooden surface. It is light wheat colored and the surface is rough
I do not bake. My cookies burn, my pie crust is either too dry or too sticky, and my pies turn out watery. So how did I find myself lead...
A black hog stands in an enclosure of logs. It has straw all over it.
George Washington is seldom seen as a man of science. But, like others who lived during the Enlightenment, he used scientific ideas,...
A statue or object resembling the statue of Liberty. The robe and crown are a mint green color and The statue holds an apple up. There are more in a container she holds at her side. She has dark hair and olive brown skin.
On June 17, 1885, a French ship, the Isère, arrived in New York Harbor laden with very special cargo—more than 200 crates filled with...
A single-page, typed letter dated July 21, 2010 from David Rockefeller. It begins: "Philanthropists, at their best, try to address serious societal problems and occasionally come up with innovations that lead to enduring change. In the end, success requires much more than financial resources, although money is, of course, essential." It continues fora total of four paragraphs.
In March, David Rockefeller died at the extraordinary age of 101. He was one of the first signers of the Giving Pledge, a commitment by...
A woman wearing a yellow sweater and wearing purple gloves carefully manipulates the fabric of a beautiful white gown with delicate flower and sequin details. The gown is one-shoulder strap. It was worn by First Lady Michelle Obama. The dress is on a form.
Sunae Park Evans probably knows Martha Washington’s measurements better than anyone, including her own seamstress. As the senior costume...
A chunk of a solid, stone-lik substance that is riddled with small holes.
Though it authorized our nation's earliest imperialistic land grab outside our continent, the 1856 Guano Islands Act is little known today...
A lobby with glass cases of objects and a stairway. The ceiling is a lurid red. In the center is a lego statue resembling the statue of liberty, resting on a large rectangular display with short glass walls surrounding it that have signage on it.
As the museum's social media manager, I get to see many snapshots our visitors share on social media while they're here. Frequently...
A movie poster for an African American action character. He wears a vivid crimson shirt, a kerchief secured around his neck by a metal ring, a cowboy hat on, and he stands in from of a large white structure in the background that has flags, towers, and domes.
The National Museum of American History is renowned for its collection of American cinematic treasures such as Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from...
Against a blank white background, a white corduroy jacket with with an insignia on the left breast and stitching on the right
High school can be a challenging time for teens. Much as they do today, young men and women throughout the 20th century wrestled with...
Lunch box featuring a scene from Star Wars. Three characters are in a vehicle that has been stopped by storm troopers.
When the Virginia all-state student orchestra launched into the first thrilling notes of John Williams's Star Wars ...
A chestnut-colored drum with a pair of drumsticks
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for bravery and valor that can be bestowed upon a member of the United States military. Modern...
A photograph that is awash in tones of gray. A woman sits in a moor-like environment with a white dress and black shawl or robe. Her face is lifted up and her eyes are closed. Her hands are clasped together as if in prayer
Confession: This month, we celebrate Mother's Day and I'm jealous of you if you still have your mom. I lost mine to breast cancer when I...
A piece of paper three hole punched at the top. There is a comic printed on it off-center of two computers sitting on a chair with a picture on a small table and dialogue bubbles. A signature and text is in the lower righthand corner and information is stamped above the cartoon on the page
On May 11, 1997, a chess-playing computer, Deep Blue, and world chess champion Garry Kasparov were on their sixth and final game. His...
Photograph of wooden box. The box has a wooden handle in the middle and a space for tools. Inside, there are two tools.
I am standing in the kitchen of Amelia Ceja, owner of Ceja Vineyards, and watching her stir a big bubbling pot of caldo, or chicken...
A photograph of a number of men standing in front of a greenhouse. Their clothes are not very fine and they all have hats on. There are overgrown plants and trees behind the greenhouse. The men hold different tools like a scythe or a rake
Piano manufacturer William Steinway described his vision of suburban America to Congress in 1883, but in his own life the future had...
An illustration of a crimson dog with floppy ears sitting in the rain, with a smiling child taking refuge under his chin. She holds a teddy bear. Around them a puddle has developed.
When Scholastic first published Clifford the Big Red Dog in 1963, the book's creator, Norman Bridwell (1928–2014), had no idea...
Illustrated advertisement for brewing companies. The design features illustrations of brown glass bottles, a cup, and lots of fancy scroll work as well as a red wax seal featuring a beer.
Getting to know just under two million objects, almost 17,000 cubic feet of archives, and around 140 curatorial and collections staff is a...
Two young girls look through the glass of a museum display to gaze at a blue bucket among other objects like a pair of boots or a bust of a man.
I don't like to dodge questions, but that's what I did when someone asked me which object is my favorite in the museum's new exhibition on...
A man in a military uniform and a woman in a dark coat stand smiling in front of a house.
Seventy-five years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. While the order avoided naming any particular ethnic...
In a black and white photo, a woman stands behind a microphone and sings in a dark room. A jazz band is behind her, and they are smiling.
"They're swingin' everything else—why not nursery rhymes?" stated Ella Fitzgerald while dancing around the room showcasing some new dance...
Wooden box with hole in it for birds and wire mesh around opening. There are lichens growing on the top of it. A nail or screw is visible on one side.
If you had asked me to guess the first object I would add to the museum's new philanthropy collection, I never would have said a Virginia...
Portrait of a woman with short brown/black hair, black glasses, a grey top, a delicate necklace, and a nice smile.
"Congratulations! Say, what does a curator do anyway?" "Philanthropy? So, you're in development?" Over the past few months I've heard those...
A small, cabinet-like square cart with 4 wheels, a blue front, and items on top sits in front of a giant vault door set against the wall with a sign for the value of money exhibit.
Want to partake in the "Hobby of Kings?" Then consider becoming a numismatist—a person who collects and studies coins or paper money.Coin...
One side of a bronze coin, showing a man with a helmet and a bounty of hair and an altar-like structure with text and votives on the reverse
We're celebrating National Coin Week with a series of posts by our National Numismatic Collection team. See our previous posts about...
A silver coin with a pegasus in flight on it
This is another post in our National Coin Week series. See previous posts about goddesses on currency and money and the military.For...
A goldenrod-colored paper with perforated edges that says it is 50 cents for a POW canteen
This week the National Numismatic Collection is celebrating National Coin Week with a series of blog posts and an Objects out of...
A coin made of grayish metal that is not polished. On it, a head in profile wears a classical war helmet. On it, there is a sprig of some sort of plant
Hillery York is the Collections Manager for the National Numismatic Collection. The objects discussed below are featured in the Women...
Piece or ribbons showing two pink flowers that may be roses or peonies, with abundant petals. Green leaves surround them. One is lighter pink, the other darker. Both are hazy in appearance.
"Spring is pre-eminently the season for ribbons," proclaimed The American Silk Journal in February 1900. As the official trade...
A pie in a dish that is crustless and looks like cream with pieces of fruit mixed in. In the middle are a number of pieces of fruit (the type that come in a fruit cocktail) piled up and the pie is lined by a ring of Nilla wafers.
Although Mad Men is over, we haven't stopped loving the 1960s. But how would our 2016 taste buds fare with 50-year-old recipes?...
A dark-colored cape laid out on a white surface. It has a red lining. One can see what may be a cloche hat next to it.
"The early morning whistles blew, the water craft sounded their signals in passing, an auto truck went thumping by, and the sun shot into...
A white china teacup and saucer sit against a black background. The saucer and the cup have different European flags and the US flag on them, and all of the edges are lined with gold
"When our country entered the Great War I decided to have this chapter in our history commemorated by a patriotic china, to be made by a...
a photograph of Ella Fitzgerald. She looks up and away from the camera. She is smiling and rests on a number of records spread out on the table in front of her.
In the Archives Center, jazz always seems to be a topic of discussion, whether it be a researcher looking for the Duke Ellington Collection...
Brown fedora with brown ribbon band
"I'm sorry. The Ruby Slippers aren't on display right now."It's something that we here at the museum are preparing ourselves to have to say...
A saucer with geometric patterns and shades of blue, green, and red. There is a prominent lotus decoration.
An encounter with ancient Egypt touches most of us at some point in our lives and leaves few of us unmoved by its remarkable culture. The...
Beer bug with a chubby middle and large handle. It is brown/tan in color. In white, an Aztec head illustration/cartoon and block letters K C O R.
Embarking on a research trip is always an exciting time for a historian, but this trip is especially important to me because it's the...
A photograph of a smiling man, his arms outstretched, in front of an exhibit with images on the wall, objects against it, and signs with captions on them.
Only a few days after the passing of James Cotton, one of the country's greatest blues harmonica players, we lost one of our greatest...
A red object that looks like a bobsled with a ski attached to the bottom and two arm braces on the sides
One of the best parts of my job as a curator at the museum is to develop exhibitions. To come up with an idea, collect objects, and write...
A woman in a historical outfit (high collared white shirt with elbow-length sleeves, long burgundy skirt, boater hat) and a bike speaks to two museum visitors
For nearly a decade, the museum has used theater as a means of enlivening the visitor experience and engaging the public in dialogue on...
A work of art portraying a face in the fore and a red and black design in the back.
Did you ever cut a linoleum block in art class? While rolls of linoleum were used for floor covering from the 1860s, artists only began to...
A piece of light colored paper. At the top reads PI = 3.* in typewriter typeface. Below are blocks of numbers sorted into rectangles in rows
Many Americans write dates in numerical form, with the first digits for the month, the second for the day of the month, and the third for...
A mannequin wears a blonde, spiky wig and a lacquered shift dress with green and gold daisies. The bottom hem, neckline, and sleeves are ruffled with teal, wrist-length gloves and a cigarette holder. Her shoes are green ankle-high booties with low heels and gold details.
Phyllis Diller is widely considered the first female stand-up comic to perform as a solo act. While she is mainly known for her career in...

Pages