Smithsonian Wants to Believe! National Museum of American History Acquires X-Files Collection

July 15, 2008
During a special ceremony today, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History received a collection of objects from “The X-Files,” the television series and movie franchise. Twentieth Century Fox together with Chris Carter, series and film writer, director and producer, and Frank Spotnitz, series and film director and producer, presented an annotated script from the series’ pilot episode, FBI badges, posters and other objects to the museum’s entertainment collections.

“The X-Files” series quickly became one of the most popular science-fiction television series in entertainment history during its nine-year run on FOX Television (1993-2002). The series featured 202 episodes and led to two feature films; the newest film is slated to open July 25. The show earned acclaim and recognition: It was nominated for 141 awards and honored with 61, including a Peabody award in 1996 and several Emmys and Golden Globes in the acting, writing and technical categories.

“The series is a significant representation of science fiction in television drama,” said Dwight Blocker Bowers, museum curator. “‘The X-Files’ captured the genre’s penchant for the paranormal and cleverly used it to address such contemporary issues as governmental control, national and international conspiracy theories and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.”.

In the world created by Carter and Spotnitz, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are tasked with investigating the “X-Files”: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder plays the role of the “believer,” having faith in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while Scully is a skeptic, initially paired with Mulder by her superiors to debunk his unconventional work. The “X-Files” main characters and key phrases, including “The Truth Is Out There,” “Trust No One” and “I Want to Believe,” became pop-culture touchstones.

Science fiction has been a vital narrative strand in nearly every aspect of popular culture, from comic books to radio, theater, television and movies, as evidenced in such wide-ranging works as “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Star Trek,” which also are represented in the museum’s collections.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays items of American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Documenting the American experience from Colonial times to the present, the museum looks at growth and change in the United States. The museum is closed for major renovations and will re-open in fall 2008. For information about the museum, please visit http://americanhistory.si.edu or call Smithsonian Information at (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).