Laura Bush Presents Inaugural Ball Gown To The Smithsonian

January 19, 2002
Mrs. Laura Bush will formally present the gown she wore to the 2001 Inaugural balls to the Smithsonian Institution’s First Ladies Collection on Sunday, Jan. 20, at the National Museum of American History. Following the presentation ceremony, the gown will be displayed in the museum’s "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" exhibition. In addition, the matching coat, shoes, and bag will be on view. Inaugural Gown Click Image To Enlarge Made of red Chantilly lace and silk satin with crystal beading, the gown has long sleeves, a scoop neck and a full skirt. It was created by Dallas designer Michael Faircloth. Mrs. Bush’s gown will be shown with one worn to George Washington’s Inauguration in 1789. The brocaded, lavender silk gown and matching petticoat are believed to have been worn by Mary Livingston Duane, wife of the mayor of New York, to a ball in that city. "The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is a national treasure chest filled with interesting information and artifacts that tell the story of our nation," said Mrs. Bush. "I am proud that my Inaugural gown will become part of the collection that honors the many great American women in our history." Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small said, "We are honored to add Mrs. Bush's gown to the popular and enduring First Ladies Collection. Her grace under pressure throughout these challenging times has been an inspiration to the whole country. She has set an example for us all to follow." Mrs. Laura Bush will formally present the gown she wore to the 2001 Inaugural balls to the Smithsonian Institution’s First Ladies Collection on Sunday, Jan. 20, at the National Museum of American History. Following the presentation ceremony, the gown will be displayed in the museum’s "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" exhibition. In addition, the matching coat, shoes, and bag will be on view. "‘The First Ladies’ exhibition helps museum visitors better understand the lives and experiences of the women themselves," Marc Pachter, acting director of the museum said. "It offers insight to the first ladies’ complex and multifaceted roles, as well as informs visitors about the changing role of women in American society." The museum’s "First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image" exhibition opened in 1992, but first ladies’ clothing has been exhibited at the Smithsonian since 1914, when it was displayed in the Arts and Industries Building. The current first ladies exhibition looks at the expanded political role and public image of presidential wives and partners within the context of women’s and presidential history. Visitors can see the inaugural gowns of 13 first ladies, from Lucretia Garfield’s gown worn in 1881 to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 1993 gown as well as other clothes and objects worn and used by first ladies, such as the wedding dress Frances Cleveland wore when she married President Grover Cleveland in 1886 at the White House, Jacqueline Kennedy’s silver brocaded A-line mini-dress and jacket, and Abigail Adams’ silk-embroidered leather shoes. "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" exhibition -- where Mrs. Bush’s ensemble will be displayed in the "Celebrating Inaugurations" section -- brings together for the first time more than 900 objects that represent the lives and times of the country’s 43 presidents. The exhibition’s highlights include Thomas Jefferson’s wooden lap desk on which he wrote the Declaration of Independence; the carriage Ulysses S. Grant rode to his second Inauguration; and the top hat Abraham Lincoln wore on the night of his assassination. Mrs. Laura Bush will formally present the gown she wore to the 2001 Inaugural balls to the Smithsonian Institution’s First Ladies Collection on Sunday, Jan. 20, at the National Museum of American History. Following the presentation ceremony, the gown will be displayed in the museum’s "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" exhibition. In addition, the matching coat, shoes, and bag will be on view. The section "Celebrating Inaugurations" examines the complex nature of American Inaugurations as part carnival, part coronation and part celebration that the torch of democracy once again has been passed in peace. It includes a reproduction of the oldest known photograph of an Inauguration (James Buchanan, 1857). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The National Museum of American History traces American heritage through exhibitions of social, cultural, scientific and technological history. Collections are displayed in exhibitions that interpret the American experience from Colonial times to the present. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Dec. 25. For more information, visit the museum’s Web site at http://americanhistory.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000.