Glass image of dog listening to a phonograph with the words "his master's voice" at a display

American Culture

Through culture we explore what it means to be American.

American culture—our entertainment, our art, and our creative expressions of daily life—has the power to captivate, inspire, and transform us. It brings us together—we share it when we spontaneously recite lines from a favorite movie, dance to the same groove, or recreate a national sports moment on a neighborhood street. It enables us to understand and appreciate our differences—some of the most vital expansions of our democracy, in fact, gained ground through pivotal cultural moments.  It spurs important conversations, and can foster important historical change.

The National Museum of American History is home to treasured objects and stories about American culture. Come enjoy our exhibitions and programs, or explore our online resources.

Culture Wing Displays

 

The museum’s new Culture Wing features displays that explore American history through culture, entertainment and the arts. These include:

  • The “Pause & Replay” installation space offers visitors a chance to recharge and reminisce about video games and take a nostalgic look through archival images, animations and retro games.
  • A 14-foot stained-glass window (pictured at top), one of four that originally graced the tower of the Victor Company’s headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, serves as the Culture Wing’s landmark object. Its image of “Nipper,” the dog listening to his master’s recorded voice, became the Recording Corporation of America’s trademark image.
  • After a year of research and conservation treatment, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz are displayed in a new, state-of-the-art display case in Entertainment Nation.
  • The stunning new Nicholas F. and Eugenia Taubman Hall of Music anchors the floor. This dedicated venue provides a home for our celebrated Smithsonian Chamber Music Society and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, as well as a variety of other live performances.
Ruby Slippers on display
Dorothy's ruby slippers on display at the museum

New Acquisitions Cases

 

Display featuring a jacket with the message "Island Women Rise" and a portrait of Ruby Ibarra performing
New Acquisitions case containing a jacket worn by Filipina American rapper Ruby Ibarra

Part of a new generation of artists dropping verses that battle social issues like misogyny, Ibarra mixes lyrics in English with Filipino languages Tagalog and Waray, sounding a call to action not just for Filipinas, but for all women.
Museum display showcasing a prop genie bottle and an oversize portrait of actress Barbara Eden
New Acquisitions case featuring a prop genie bottle from the television sitcom I Dream of Jeannie

The fantasy comedy series featured Barbara Eden as an ancient genie bound to serve the astronaut who freed her. Jeannie aired at the dawn of the sexual revolution, provoking conversation about gender roles, sexism, and married life.

Explore Further

 

  • Listen to stories about iconic artifacts from the museum's collection, including Fonzie's leather jacket, Archie Bunker's chair, and Dorothy's ruby slippers, in the podcast series Lost at the Smithsonian with Aasif Mandvi.
  • Explore oral history excerpts and personal reflections on our entertainment collection from over 50 leading culture-makers in The American Scene.
  • Watch our curators discuss the connection between entertainment and social change in this recorded virtual program “Social Justice on Film.”
Props from the controversial hit sitcom All in the Family
Props from the controversial hit sitcom All in the Family, 1971–1979