Smithsonian Web Sites Honor and Explore the Presidency

October 30, 2000
On Nov. 14, Internet users will be able to get a sneak preview of the Smithsonian’s newest exhibition, "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden," when the exhibition’s Web site goes on line at http://americanhistory.si.edu/presidency. "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" itself opens to the public at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington on Nov. 15. Unprecedented in size and scope, "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" explores 200 years of the American presidency—the men and their impact on the office. The exhibition showcases national treasures, including George Washington’s uniform, the desk on which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and a microphone used by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his radio "fireside chats." The Web site offers users a world-class virtual exhibition that extends "The Presidency’s" audience to Internet users, providing a rich and enjoyable educational resource for students, teachers and parents. The site is not a re-creation of the exhibition that visitors will see in the National Museum of American History. Instead, it reshapes and retells the story of the presidency in ways possible only in an interactive medium, using the strengths of the Web to expand the exhibit’s offerings. The Web site takes a thematic view of presidential history, building upon the richness of the National Museum of American History collections. Elements of the site include:
  • Four organizing categories: the creation of the office, campaigning, life in the White House and popular perceptions of the presidency
  • An interactive timeline—an animated tool that provides instant access to detailed information about specific presidents and the historical eras in which they lived, as well as related objects in the museum’s exhibition
  • Special resources for teachers, produced by the museum in partnership with The History Channel
  • Interactive activities for young visitors, including explorations of the president’s job, children who have lived in the White House and the presidential seal
  • An interconnected set of "Did You Know?" pages revealing interesting and unusual links among presidents and objects in the collection
  • "E-mail the President," an opportunity to view letters children wrote to past presidents and a link to e-mail the current president.
The site was developed and produced by iXL™, an interactive development service and e-business solution provider. The Los Angeles iXL™ team worked closely with the Smithsonian to create this rich and unusual resource site, donating a good portion of their time to contribute to this effort. "The American Presidency" exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of individual donors and corporate partners including: Kenneth E. Behring, The History Channel, Chevy Chase Bank, Cisco Systems Inc., Elizabeth and Whitney MacMillan, and Heidi and Max Berry. Additional sponsors include: Automatic Data Processing Inc.; KPMG LLP; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; and T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. The minimum capability for viewing "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" online includes a 56K connection to the Internet, use of Internet Explorer 4.0 or Netscape 4.0 or higher browsers, and screen resolution of 800 by 600 pixels displaying millions of colors. In order to maintain the highest level of accessibility, the site was built using hard-coded HTML and does not employ dynamically generated content or databases. Flash animation is used for the Timeline and interactive games, with alternatives for users without Flash capability. Other Smithsonian Web sites About Presidents Archives of American Art—"The Artful Presidency: Selections from the Archives of American Art" at www.archivesofamericanart.si.edu was produced to coincide with "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden." This exhibition features letters, photographs, and other documents in the Archives’ collections that relate to the presidents and first ladies. Material relating to nearly 30 presidents will be featured on the Web site, ranging from letters by John Adams and John Quincy Adams to photographs from the Carter administration. National Portrait Gallery—The National Portrait Gallery is closed for renovation, but the Web site makes it possible for people to enjoy and learn from the museum. In the Collections area, http://www.npg.si.edu/col/ , visitors will find the "Hall of Presidents Virtual Tour" (Apple Quicktime VR required) and "Portraits of the Presidents," which offers a static view of each presidential portrait. Traveling exhibitions are also taking the Portrait Gallery’s collections on the road across the country. The Web site now offers an online version of the traveling exhibition "Portraits of the Presidents From the National Portrait Gallery" at http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/travpres/ . National Postal Museum—The National Postal Museum’s on-line exhibition "Mail to the Chief" http://www.si.edu/postal/fdr/exhibit.html focuses on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who enjoyed a lifelong interest in collecting stamps. FDR sketched the original designs for several United States stamps issued during his time in office. The exhibition showcases the postage stamps bearing those designs, along with other items from FDR’s personal philatelic collection, offering a fresh perspective on one of our nation’s most-esteemed leaders. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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.