The Walking Dead Finds Sanctuary at the Smithsonian

National Museum of American History Accepts Donation of Artifacts From AMC’s The Walking Dead
October 10, 2017

In a special ceremony, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History accepted a donation of artifacts from AMC’s post-apocalyptic television series The Walking Dead. Cast members and AMC executives were on-site for the donation ceremony, which featured objects used and worn by characters over the past seven seasons, including the crossbow wielded by fan favorite Daryl Dixon, Michonne’s katana blade, Carl Grimes’ costume from the first two seasons and Merle Dixon’s weaponized arm rig.

 The Walking Dead adapts Robert Kirkman’s comic book series depicting the aftermath of an epidemic that transforms people into flesh-eating zombies, dubbed “walkers.” The show follows former police officer Rick Grimes who leads a group of survivors seeking a safe haven. As the world overrun by the walkers takes its toll, the characters’ interpersonal conflicts and moral dilemmas often present a greater danger to their survival than the undead. Over seven seasons, the characters are changed by their proximity to death and their growing willingness to do anything to survive.

Among the objects the museum will add to its collections are: the pajamas costume worn by the undead child Rick encounters in the first scene of the series pilot, the full costume, including the baseball cap worn by Glenn whom Rick meets in the walker-infested streets of Atlanta in the second episode of the series and a prop used as Hershel Greene’s decapitated head.

“These items from one of the most watched shows in cable television history represent America’s fascination with horror as a genre that has crossed into main stream family viewing,” said Eric Jentsch, arts and culture curator at the museum.

The objects from The Walking Dead will join other artifacts from iconic series like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Wonder Years and Seinfeld in the museum’s expanding television collections. Objects from The Walking Dead will further contribute to the understanding of the history of television as a shared audience experience, as artistic content and as a technological medium.

There are no immediate plans to display the new objects, but an exhibition is in development that will explore American culture and will draw on the museum’s theater, music, sports and entertainment collections. That exhibition is expected to open in 2020.

The Walking Dead premiered Oct. 31, 2010; the Oct. 22 premiere of season eight marks the shows 100th episode.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. 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. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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