Smart phones: Collecting an electronic montage

New inventions always build on inventions of the past—and sometimes more than one. Few devices demonstrate that more clearly than smartphones. These technological marvels pack a battery-powered telephone, camera, radio, television, computer, flashlight, and more into one pocket-sized package. In addition to the hardware, there's the software, both the apps and the coding that makes the hardware function as a single device.

T is for Television, H is for Holiday, F is for Festival

Our holiday season display, "T is for Television," takes a look at some of our favorite television characters and shows in an irresistible combination of adorable-ness and nostalgia.

Tiny capsules, national service: The draft during World War I

After maintaining neutrality for three years, the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. Expecting around a million enlistees but receiving only 73,000 volunteers for military service, Congress and President Woodrow Wilson realized other methods were required to call up a large military force. By July 20, Wilson would enact a military draft lottery. Secretary of War Newton D.

Preserving family treasures after a hurricane—and leaving the spiders alone in the basement

Beside piles of rubble, The Donut Palace was open for business. The image of the little donut shop, defiantly open in the face of the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Who tells Eliza's story? Philanthropy and "Hamilton: An American Musical"

Lin-Manuel Miranda's award-winning Broadway hit "Hamilton: An American Musical" turned international attention to the story of founding leader Alexander Hamilton, but also sparked the public rediscovery of his wife Eliza Hamilton's philanthropy.

Numismanic, Nomismatic, Numismatics?

Whenever we tell friends and family where we work, their first response is typically, "What is Numismatics?" Of course, they pronounce it anywhere from "numismatic" to "gnomimatic!"

Advertising photography is more than a thousand words: Al Rendon remembers a photography session with Selena

What's it like to photograph a celebrity for an ad campaign? Al Rendon tells us about his work and photographing Selena.

The continuing tradition: The Smithsonian receives Mrs. Trump's inaugural gown

Have you heard? We have a new dress on exhibition. It's true. There has been an addition to the First Ladies exhibition. First Lady Melania Trump visited the National Museum of American History today to formally present her 2017 inaugural ball gown to the collection. The vanilla silk crepe off-the-shoulder gown has a slit skirt, a ruffled accent trim encircling the neckline that flows down to the hem to trail ever so slightly onto the floor, and a thin claret ribbon tied around the waist in a small bow.

The woman who would be cardinal

This is one of the oldest theater costumes in the museum's collection. It was made around 1857 for the role of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in Shakespeare's Henry VIII. But it is important less for its age than for the fact that it was made for an actress not an actor.

Great napkins of history: Laffer and Zandman's sketches of breakthrough ideas

A seemingly simple cloth napkin with some writing on it, this object was so much more. Economist Art Laffer sketched a new direction for the Republican Party on this napkin.

Pages