American Stories

NMAH Ruby Slippers

Special notice: The ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz will be off display temporarily on a routine visit to the conservation lab. For a few weeks only, the Scarecrow costume worn by actor Ray Bolger will be shown in their place. Sunday, Feb. 7 will be the last day to see the ruby slippers before they go off view. Check the Museum's website and social media for updates on the ruby slippers' return.

Take a journey through time and discover both well-known and less-familiar stories about the American experience in the Museum’s newest signature exhibition: American Stories. In 5,300 square feet, American Stories features an engaging mix of artifacts from the Museum’s vast holdings to tell stories about the country’s history. Through more than 100 objects, visitors can follow a chronology that spans the Pilgrims’ 1620 arrival in Plymouth, Massachusetts, through the 2008 presidential election.

American Stories highlights the ways in which objects and stories can reinforce and challenge our understanding of history and help define our personal and national identities. The exhibition examines the manner in which culture, politics, economics, science, technology, and the peopling of the United States have shaped the country over the decades. Dedicated spaces throughout will regularly feature new acquisitions to give a more inclusive representation of the experiences of all Americans.

Highlights include the following objects:

  • a fragment of Plymouth Rock
  • a section of the first transatlantic telegraph cable
  • a sunstone capital from the Latter-day Saints temple at Nauvoo, Illinois
  • the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (temporarily off view - see notice above)
  • signed baseball from the 1937 All-Star Game
  • clothing and textile artifacts
  • Apolo Ohno’s speed skates from the 2002 Winter Olympics
  • C-3PO costume from Return of the Jedi (1983) on display November 24, 2015 - February 2016
  • Hugh Jackman's Wolverine costume from X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) on display November 24, 2015 - February 2016