Artists have long been major players in American philanthropy. If that surprises you to learn, you might be further surprised to learn that...
A bucket from the Ice Bucket Challenge. A collection box from the 19th century. A toolbelt from a volunteer...
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...

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National anniversaries can be celebrated in many ways—parades, fireworks displays, and, of course, museum exhibitions. In 1983 Congress...
A black wig on a white mannequin head. It is cut flat across the top, and curved on the sides.
April 29, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Broadway opening of the rock musical Hair. Hair grew out of the counterculture...
Patch with character of Fifinella—a winged woman wearing goggles, frozen mid-jump
On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into World War II. The very next day U.S. Army troops...
Vibrant purple fabric, with Perkin Mauve written below
I collect souvenirs, as do many friends and family members. Most of these souvenirs have scant monetary value, but we treasure them as...
A blue robotic arm
A visitor to Kenneth Salisbury's Stanford University office can't miss the evidence of his life-long fascination with hands.Kenneth...
President Lyndon Johnson signing the Fair Housing Act, 1968, surrounded by onlookers
Fifty years ago, on April 11, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill that was to end discrimination in most of the nation’s housing...
Oscar Peterson and Norman Granz seated together
During this year’s Jazz Appreciation Month, we are exploring the relationship between jazz and justice by looking at the dynamic ways jazz...
Did that title grab your attention? Great.Happy National Beer Day! When you open your fridge shortly after five o'clock this evening (or...
Norman Granz and Ella Fitzgerald stand side-by-side in front of a microphone
A civil rights protest often invokes the vivid images of sit-ins, boycotts, and marches, but the fight for racial equality took many...
A woman with styled hair leans out a window.
In my first week as a curator at the National Museum of American History, I made a list of women I wished were present in the museum's...
A sepia tone portrait of Madam CJ Walker
A former laundress who became a millionaire from her hair-care company, Madam C. J. Walker (1867–1919) was a leading philanthropist of the...
A white background with a black electric guitar.
James Smithson might be surprised to learn about some of the objects in the collections at the institution he established. The Englishman...
An close up of a section of Giving in America. The ALS ice bucket is evident.
I caught up with collections manager Katharine Klein as she worked on rotating objects in the museum's Giving in America exhibit, to learn...
Woodcut showing figures playing baseball
She found symmetry in baseball. She made a triptych celebrating American agriculture. Her portraits featured the work of human hands, her...
A blue vase with art nouveau style flowers around the lip.
I didn't drool on the objects, but exploring the ceramics storage room as an intern at the National Museum of American History was pretty...
An illustration of a ticket that reads 'Order 9066'
Each year we mark the Day of Remembrance with events recognizing Executive Order 9066, signed on February 19, 1942, after Japan’s bombing...
A white debutante gown with an empire waste and fabric flowers around the neckline.
"I was 17 years old at the time and the dress made me feel so grown up and beautiful," Pauline "Polly" Carver Duxbury wrote about the dress...
Composite of four images, all showing streets and buildings in New Orleans
Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding this year, New Orleans is a city whose culture and cuisine have captivated the American...
Wooden Gavel
Museums are full of “firsts”—objects that represent the first person to complete a task, to win an award, to hold a position, to achieve a...
A statue of Lucretia Mott
January 3, 2018, would have been Lucretia Coffin Mott’s 225th birthday. When it came to birthdays, Mott had a particular way of celebrating...
Mail cache decorated with illustration showing a sled dog team from the perspective of a musher
In this social media world of Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, everyone has heard of email (and even those of us who aren’t tech savvy...
Coin with image of braying elephant
Beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss celebrated the importance of small things in the book Horton Hears a Who! with his famous declaration...
A grey skirt suit, with a bolero jacket and a black belt.
What was life like for women in the workforce over the past 150 years? To help answer that question, I turned to the museum’s...
A red tractor
2018 is the Year of the Tractor at the museum. Curator Peter Liebhold explored gems of the museum's tractor collection and what they can...
A metal lunch box decorated with illustration of the Dr. Seuss story, "The Cat in the Hat"
This week, teachers, librarians, and students across America will be looking around their homes for tall, striped top hats and red ties....
Two Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders uniforms, complete with blue and white tops and shorts, decorated with stars
In 1976, I was an 11-year-old girl who had always wanted to be a cheerleader, and the only part of Super Bowl X that caught my attention...
A round coin with a square removed from the center. One side is marked with the color orange.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea. I cannot wait to watch the competitions and see some of the...
Photograph of exhibition section under label, "Incorporating Western Lands"
This group portrait of Del Valle family members is on display in “Many Voices, One Nation.” This photo of the Del Valle family and...
Two outdoor graves and urns sit side by side, shaded by trees
The trauma of losing its first leader, George Washington, was greatly felt by a new nation. Ezra Stiles, a pastor of the Second...
A red box shaped like a fire house station with a pull handle. The box is decorated with the company logo of Gamewell, complete with a hand gripping bolts of electricity.
At 2 p.m. on February 16, 1968, a special red telephone rang at the police station in Haleyville, Alabama. Rather than a police officer, U....
Two lightbulbs, the bulb on the left has a blue cast
People tend to be creatures of habit. That tendency often shows up when we’re faced with an odd-looking new technology that replaces...
Green and brown military uniform with red beret. Owner’s name, Redding, written on left breast
This post is part two in a series. In part one, curator Frank Blazich introduced U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel James K. Redding, who served...
Shoulder patch with image of an eagle in flight and a parachute in the background
A year ago, a visitor to the exhibition The Price of Freedom: Americans at War wrote me that an American advisor’s uniform from the Army of...
Jean Stapleton stands at a podium addressing the crowd wearing a banner that says "Honored." A sign behind her reads: "ERA Yes"
February 2018 marks the 70th Anniversary of  the professional debut of Jean Stapleton (1923 to 2013) at the Equity Library Theater in...
Cartoon drawing with title "The Deadly Upas Tree of Wall Street" shows several men drifting to sleep beneath a large tree whose leaves are made of gold coins.
Peek through a partially opened door in a new exhibition exploring the grandness, boldness, and complexity of America’s democracy. You’ll...
A scientific device sits against a black background. A thick shield of glass obscures the details of the device. It sits on a silver pedestal.
Twenty years before the start of World War I, a new "light" that could pass through a human body revealing its underlying structures caused...
Three books showing different dyes, as well as viles of organic matter.
Valentine is a name not just for a saint, but also for a fabric dyer! I gingerly lifted a stiff cardboard case out of its cold, gray...
Plaster Figures from America on the Move
America on the Move has been open to the public since 2003 and remains one of the museum's most popular exhibitions, particularly for...
Gold coin marked 1838 decorated with stars and the profile of Liberty's head. Liberty wears a head-band that reads "Liberty."
This year marks the 170th anniversary of the California Gold rush! On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill...
Detail of a bill featuring a portrait of Hamilton in profile
In 1789, when Alexander Hamilton began his role as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, he may still have been “young,...
Small carved wooden animals
This is a story about toy boats, cats, a rat, religion, and mounts. What are mounts? It's ok, I get that question a lot. My job as...
Collage of images related to military history
The sound of a cart rolling down my hallway always makes my ears perk up. My desk is near the workspace for the Division of Armed Forces...
Black and white photo of a two-story house. Part of a car is visible in the foreground.
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Collage of images taken from various blog posts, from photos of gowns to a portrait of a soldier in World War 1
2017 was another incredible year on the museum’s blog. More than a few of our most-read posts focused on how the museum continues to grow...
Gold shiny dress with v-neck, silver circles in chest area, and flowy skirt.
As a kid and as a parent, I am all too familiar with the concept of hand-me-down clothes, the cost-cutting practice of wearing already "...
Image of what looks like a cell phone with one of its panels removed so that insides are visible.
New inventions always build on inventions of the past—and sometimes more than one. Few devices demonstrate that more clearly than...
Painting of a dark, naval scene with explosions
The calm Southern Pacific night sky distorts in an instant into a maelstrom of fire and thunder. Torpedoes and gunfire hit their mark....
Photo of Oscar the Grouch puppet (green with big eyes, scraggly fur) popping out of an aluminum garbage can
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