Today, the Washington Senators are most remembered for their ability to finish in last place. Despite their successful early history marked...
José Feliciano will remain forever celebrated for his perennial Christmas classic "Feliz Navidad," one of his many hit recordings that have...
Advertising agencies have relied on images to engage consumers since the late 19th century. Images convey both information and emotion in a...

Blog Posts in "Musings"

John McCain and other returning soldiers stand before a crowd
This past Saturday, August 25, Arizona Senator John S. McCain III bid the nation farewell. For 60 years, McCain served the country either...
An close up of a section of Giving in America. The ALS ice bucket is evident.
I caught up with collections manager Katharine Klein as she worked on rotating objects in the museum's Giving in America exhibit, to learn...
Small carved wooden animals
This is a story about toy boats, cats, a rat, religion, and mounts. What are mounts? It's ok, I get that question a lot. My job as...
Photograph of lunch counter with four chairs
"I walked away with an attitude that, if our country is screwed up, don't give up. Unscrew it, but don't give up."   ...
A woman stands inside a case with metal objects attached to poles, and there are lanterns hung up. She holds a white cloth out and attempts to clean the glass in front of her.
As collections managers and museum specialists, our job is to care, physically and intellectually, for the museum's objects. We research...
Large hardcover book, mostly dark brown with gold-colored details.
What does religion sound like? Across the United States today, you can listen for it in the tolling of church bells, the Muslim call to...
(Detail) Image of a nature scene with mountains in the background, rocks and a stream in foreground, and trees. Misty, cloud, but slightly sunny.
What would you have done if you saw your river burning? The Cuyahoga River that runs through the northeastern corner of Ohio was so...
Film poster with three faces
Entering a museum with three floors, three million artifacts, and three dozen displays and exhibitions can be intimidating. That's why we...
Judging from our blog readers' favorite posts this year, military history is a popular topic. But you also kept some space on your reading...
Detail from scrapbook with photo of Saigon and clips of text
When I started my internship in the museum's Division of Armed Forces History, I expected to see reminders of what it was like to be a U.S...
Olympia Mills, Columbia, South Carolina, about 1905. The all-electric Olympia Mills opened in 1899 about one mile down river from Columbia Mills. Explosive cotton dust in the air made the switch from open gas lamps to electric lights desirable. Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, 1895-1921
Engineering infrastructure usually isn't the most compelling topic for a blog post—except when it fails dramatically. In the wake of a 1,...
Chair made of 50 yellow pencils
The humble chair has long been the subject of invention and reinvention. From reclining and office chairs to today's ever-shrinking airline...
Do Dorothy's ruby slippers still work if you tap them together three times? What's with the punctuation in our national anthem? Where can I...
Word cloud of words visitor wrote in comments about 9/11 memories, the words "think" and "happen" are biggest
Visitors to the museum's 2011 commemorative event September 11: Remembrance and Reflection were invited to share their stories...
A square object depicting trees in front of a lake with mountains in the background and a turquoise sky. The edges are very white and distinct.
One hundred and sixty years ago on August 9, 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden, a transcendental tribute to solitude,...
"The Star-Spangled Banner" song turns 200 this year. As part of her work on the upcoming Smithsonian Channel film A Star-Spangled...
3 old cell phones
Cell phones have come a long way since the "gray brick" that many of us remember. Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation...
author with cookie monster
Yes, those of us on the museum staff know our jobs are awesome. Laura McClure of our Office of Exhibition Services shares what it's like to...
photo of men in uniform
If you've ever done research using primary source documents, you know that context is key. Who took this photo? Who's in the photo?...
ice skates
"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" This was ABC sportscaster Al Michaels' quote "heard 'round the world" after the U.S. National Team beat...
The Museum of History and Technology (our previous name) was dedicated on today’s date 50 years ago, opening to the public on the following...
Today is the 75th anniversary of the announcement that Vivien Leigh would play Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Guest...
Christopher Wilson, Director of Experience and Program Design, reflects on the legacy of Civil Rights activist and friend, Franklin McCain...
Black and white photo of our people standing in a small room. Nelson Mandela gestures. President Clinton looks with a half smile. Hillary Clinton shown in profile. Woman looks in through the door.
Christopher Wilson, Director of Experience and Program Design, shares the rare opportunity he had to reflect on the legacy of Nelson...
He's watching you Darth helmet
The National Museum of American History's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation recently hosted its annual symposium,...
The day after Thanksgiving is one of our highest visitation days of the year and many families bring along tiny bundles of joy. This made...
Kid at museum
Tempted to skip visiting museums until your toddler is older? Museum Fellow Sarah Erdman explains why she's taking her son to museums now....
Color photograph of graveyard with white crosses, four trees, sun shining
Thinking about researching a relative's wartime experiences? Jeff Lowdermilk's story of researching his grandfather's military service may...
This Veterans Day weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Women's Memorial. Curator Karen Lee spoke...
Historic 3D photos can act as windows in time when employed at the spots where they were taken.
Garry Adelman's job is to bring Civil War history to life for those of us who only know it from black and white photographs in textbooks....
Poster show child playing with blocks that spell "E L R E T O"
Smithsonian Latino Center Fellow Jessica Lott's dissertation research led her to our medicine and science collections, where she...
Medal with man's face in profile
While exploring a collection of portraits of leading thinkers in mathematics and computing, curator Art Molella became curious about the...
Happy Book Lovers' Day! Where history, collections, and good books meet, you'll find our staff book club. Here's what they'...
Container of Abuelita hot chocolate on colorful fabric
Spotting a familiar artifact at the Smithsonian can be an exciting moment for visitors—and, in this case, a moment of cultural connection....
Ford's house with green lawn, columns
For Henry Ford's 150th birthday today, Christopher Wilson, Director of the Program in African American History and Culture, shares a...
Fannie Lou Hamer postage stamp
Confronted with challenging primary source material as part of her research on the civil rights movement, Fellow Regina Sierra Carter was...
Celia Cruz Portrait
Curator Marvette Perez remembers "Queen of Salsa" Celia Cruz on the 10th anniversary of her death. I stood in awe at the sight of such...
We recently lost numismatics curator Richard Doty. His colleague curator Karen Lee shares why he will not be forgotten. My mentor...
While we're renovating the west side of the museum, a few of visitors' favorite objects have been moved off display, including Jerry...
Many have commented on the power of our Join the Student Sit-Ins program. One audience member wrote to us about the memories the...
How can there be two Star-Spangled Banners? Education Specialist Naomi Coquillon takes us on a tour of the history of the flag, the anthem...
Sparked by a photograph, staff member Christopher Wilson discusses his relationship with music that spans the generations. It's...
Woven American flag with person in wheelchair symbol instead of stars
If you want to study how museums and memorial sites interpret the history of disability in America, Washington, D.C., is the place to do it...
On your next visit to the museum, take a look at our new exhibition FOOD: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000, which...
George Scurlock (son of George Scurlock, the photographer) with his siblings in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. ...
One of the cola cans discovered in the museum's walls Museum people have a hard time throwing things away—our offices are proof of...
Editor's note: A tweet from the National Museum of African American History and Culture recently caught our eye. They asked an...
Cranberries in a pot, set on dried leaves
It's not everyday that you get to meet an expert on colonial foodways—especially not one dressed in a historically accurate pilgrim outfit....

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