Calendar of Exhibitions and Events December 2016

December 1, 2016

Editor’s Note: All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Visitors should be prepared for a security check upon entrance to the museum. Program attendees should arrive 30 minutes in advance. For a complete schedule of activities check:

Opening Displays

Elaine Ostroff and the Universal Design Movement
Dec. 1 – March 31, 2017
Archives Center, First Floor

Elaine Ostroff, an early pioneer in disability design, was among the founders of the Universal Design Movement (1960s-1970s) and is an expert on the application of universal design in the built environment. This display will feature selections from her personal papers which are held in the museum’s Archives Center and document her contributions to universal design movement.

Featured Event

Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Dec. 3 and 4; 10 a.m. 5:30 p.m.

Visitor’s can get in the holiday spirit with free festive musical performances, “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” book signings, crafts, special foods and more. Complimentary gift-wrapping will be available at the National Museum of American History. The free Circulator bus will transport visitors to the other festivities around the National Mall.
For a full schedule of events across the Smithsonian visit


U.S. Air Force Band High Flight
Dec. 3 and 4; Noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Flag Hall

Holiday musical performance by the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note Combo “High Flight.” 


The Muppet Christmas Carol (85 minutes; Rated G)
Dec. 3 and 4; 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Warner Bros. Theater, First Floor
Free Screening

The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser’s redemption on Christmas Eve; starring Michael Caine as  Ebenezer Scrooge.

Museum Stores and Specials

Holiday Gift Wrapping
Dec. 3 and 4; Noon 5 p.m.
Outside main store, First Floor

Visitors can get a head start on holiday shopping and take advantage of free gift-wrapping services.

Specialty Desserts and Hot Beverages
Dec. 3 and 4; 10 a.m. 3 p.m.
Stars & Stripes Cafe

Enjoy festive treats created in the museum’s main cafeteria; for purchase.

Trunk Shows
Dec. 3 and 4; 12 noon 5 p.m.
Main Store, First Floor

Enjoy the works of local artisans and find unique holiday gifts


From Bean to Bar: Chocolate Demonstration
Dec. 3 and 4; 10 a.m. 3 p.m.
Third Floor, West Wing

Experience chocolate as the early colonists did with demonstrations of American Heritage Chocolate. The chocolate is fashioned from recipes made in 1750 and uses a sprinkling of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, orange and red pepper.

Book Signings

“In Julia’s Kitchen: Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child”
Saturday, Dec. 3; 1 – 3 p.m.
Mall Store, Second Floor

Author Pamela Heyne and Child’s long-time food photographer Jim Scherer sign copies of their book, “In Julia’s Kitchen: Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child,” where they collaborated to share Child’s kitchen design and lifestyle concepts and examine the kitchens in her Cambridge, Mass, home; at la Pitchoune, the Child’s French vacation retreat; and in her television studio.

“Midcentury Christmas: Holiday Fads, Fancies, and Fun from 1945 to 1970”
Saturday, Dec. 3; 1 – 3 p.m.
First Floor, Center

Author and designer Sarah Archer signs copies of her book, “Midcentury Christmas: Holiday Fads, Fancies, and Fun from 1945 to 1970,” that tells the story of how Christmastime in America rocketed from the Victorian period into Space Age, thanks to the new technologies and unprecedented prosperity that shaped the era.

“In the Shadow of Liberty”
Saturday, Dec. 3; 1 – 3 p.m.
First Floor, Center

Author Kenneth C. Davis signs copies of his book, “In the Shadow of Liberty,” which tells the story of five enslaved people who were “owned” by four presidents and the role slavery played in the founding of America.

“Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution through Painter’s Eyes”
Sunday, Dec. 4; 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
First Floor, Center

Author Paul Staiti signs copies of his book, “Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painter’s Eyes,” in which he reveals that the lives of five American artists of the Revolutionary period – Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West and Gilbert Stuart – were as eventful as those of the Founders with whom they frequently interacted.

“Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan,” “Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations” and “Southern Soups & Stews: More Than 75 Recipes from Burgoo and Gumbo to Etouffee and Fricassee”
Sunday, Dec. 4; Noon – 2 p.m.
First Floor, Center

Food writer and cooking teacher, Nancie McDermott, signs copies of her books, “Southern Pies,” “Southern Cakes,” and “Southern Soups & Stews,” which all explore the southern traditions of baking and cooking.

“The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets”
Sunday, Dec. 4; 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
First Floor, Center

Author Yudhijit Bhattacharjee will sign copies of his book, “The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell,” which gives the true-life account of the FBI’s hunt for former CIA employee, Brian Regan, whose espionage scheme and complex system of coded messages were made even more baffling by his dyslexia.

Events and Daily Programs

hiSTORYtime: Numbers
Saturdays, Dec. 3, 10, and 17; 11 a.m. – Noon      
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
First Floor, West Wing

hiSTORYtime is a new program for children ages 0 to 6 with various themes. Early learners and their caregivers will have the chance to hear a story and participate in hands-on activities and crafts inspired by objects from the museum’s collection. Children can listen to counting stories, create art with numbers and learn about numbers, colors and shapes with toy clocks.

Museum ABCs
Tuesdays, Dec. 6, 13, 20 and 27; 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., 2 – 4 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
First Floor, West Wing

Museum ABCs is a drop-in program for children ages 3 to 6 and their adult companions. This program introduces early learners to the museum collection through a new letter, new object, and new interactive experience every month. Starting in December, C is for clock. Participants will hear stories about telling time, craft your their clock and learn about numbers, colors and shapes with toy clocks.


Jazz and Spirituality: From Ellington to Sun Ra and Beyond
Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra

Friday, Dec. 9; 7:30 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
First Floor, West Wing

Join the SJMO and special guest choir, Howard University’s Afro Blue along with guest vocalist Harolyn Blackwell, for an evening highlighting compositions by musicians inspired by spirituality, divinity or religion, all of whom helped shape the broad landscape of modern jazz history. This concert is part of Sounds of Faith, the spiritual roots of American music.

About the Museum

The National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history through its collections and research. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. It is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. 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). To learn more about the museum, check Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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