A family looking at an old, large US flag in a dark room

The Star-Spangled Banner

The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem

On View 2 Center

Upon entering this exhibition, visitors are immersed in the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write his famous lyrics. The 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.

Exhibition Website

The war, the flag, the song, and the legacy: the history of the Star-Spangled Banner is told in four parts. Explore an interactive flag in incredible detail and answer quiz questions correctly to get a special reward. Visit the website.

The preservation and exhibition of the Star-Spangled Banner was made possible by the leadership support of Polo Ralph Lauren and many other generous donors.