The museum will reopen to the public on Friday, May 21, 2021. Free, timed-entry passes will be required for entry and will be available beginning on Friday, May 14.

The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem

The Star-Spangled Banner

About the Exhibition

Upon entering this exhibition, visitors are immersed in the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write his famous lyrics. The almost 200-year old, 30-by 34-foot flag is displayed in a special environmentally-controlled chamber. An interactive table with a tactile image allows visitors to investigate key details of the flag and how it was made. The exhibition explores the flag as a family keepsake in the 19th century, the Smithsonian Institution’s efforts to preserve the artifact since 1907, and how Americans have used the Star-Spangled Banner—both the flag and the song—to express diverse ideas of patriotism and national identity.

Please note: Photography is not permitted in this exhibition. Learn why on our blog and download photos from Flickr.

Online Exhibition

The war, the flag, the song, and the legacy: the history of the Star-Spangled Banner is told in four parts.  You are invited to share what the American flag means to you by submitting your own photos and stories to the site.  You can also explore an interactive flag in incredible detail and answer quiz questions correctly to get a special reward.  Visit Web site