Calendar of Exhibitions and Events November 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 and Exhibits

Solar on the Line
Nov. 21 – TBD
Artifact Walls, Third Floor

“Solar on the Line” will explore the innovation and technology behind solar power as a renewable energy resource and present multiple views on the potential benefits and challenges of this technology. This display will introduce visitors to the history of solar energy use in the U.S. as well as how it is both a part of the electrical grid as well as an off-grid supplement. Two solar panels will be on display, one from the Carter White House, which the President installed to heat water in 1979, and the other a recent acquisition from the California Million Solar Roof Initiative. Also on view will be supporting technology including a 2016 bi-directional electric meter, solar electric inverter and solar controller panel which will help visitors understand how solar panels work.

Muppets & Puppets
Nov. 23 – Jan. 8, 2017
Holiday Display

In time for the winter holidays, this showcase presents a selection of Muppets and marionetts from the museum’s collection illustrating the evolution of puppetry. Included in the display will be an Italian Prince and Princess marionette from 1900, an elf marrionette used at the 1963 World’s Fair, the first Kermit Jim Henson created for the television program, “Sam & Friends,” and two popular Muppets, Fozzie Bear and Swedish Chef. During the Holiday Festival, Dec. 3 and 4, the museum will screen The Muppet Christmas Carol. Check for times.

Giving in America
Nov. 29 – Permanent
Third Floor, Center

“Giving in America, a permanent exhibit that looks at the history of philanthropy’s role in shaping the United States, opens Nov. 29 which is also #Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving. The exhibit will showcase four major themes of American philanthropy centered on the questions of “Who Gives?” “Why Do We Give?” “What Do We Give?” and “How Do We Give?” and uses artifacts ranging from an alms box of the 1800s to a bucket used during the 2014-15 “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” which went viral on social media. The exhibit features a section devoted to an annual topic and will open with a look at “Sustainability and the Environment.” 

Closing Displays

Hooray for Politics!
First Floor, Center
Closing Nov. 13

This display juxtaposes historic voting devices with contemporary candidate rally signs to encourage our visitors to reflect on the relationship between the nation’s democratic traditions and the current swirl of election news and draw visitors into conversations on the importance of civic engagement. Included in this display will be large voting machines from the late 19th century to the more recent Votomatic, and an assortment of 19th and 20th century voting boxes and rally signs from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Cyrus Field and the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable
Archives Center
Innovation Wing, First Floor
Closing Nov. 27

In the mid-19th century, the world suddenly became smaller when an underwater telegraph cable joined two nations divided by the sea, Ireland and Newfoundland, Canada. Using Archives Center collection materials, this display commemorates American businessman and financier Cyrus Field’s accomplishment in laying the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable in July 1866.  

Featured Events

Waking the Ancestors: Recovering the Lost Sacred Sounds of Colonial America
Saturday, Nov. 5, 6 – 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 6, 2 – 3 p.m.;

Warner Bros. Theater, First Floor

The arrival of the Mayflower on the shores of North America in 1620 forever transformed the lives of those living on the continent. This documentary theater program, created by Plimoth Plantation and led by Richard Pickering, the organization’s deputy executive director, explores the intersection of two musical traditions: hymns and psalms from the Church of England and Calvinist congregations and the sacred songs and dance of the Wampanoag, the indigenous people of Cape Cod, the Islands and southern Massachusetts. Free tickets are available here:

“The Spiritual Worlds of the Pilgrims and Wampanoag”
Sunday, Nov. 6, 11:30 – 12:30 p.m.
Flag Hall, Second Floor

Plimoth Plantation’s Wampanoag and Colonial living history educators will hold short conversations, demonstrate instruments and perform rounds, songs and ballads related to early colonial religion and Wampanoag spirituality and language.

Innovative Lives: Bob Pittman
Wednesday, Nov. 15; 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, First Floor, West Wing
Free registration required:

Bob Pittman, American innovator and iHeartMedia Chairman and CEO, will be featured as the latest participant in the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation’s new series Innovative Lives. The event will feature an in-person dialogue that offers opportunities for audience to engage in a public conversation with Pittman about his pioneering work and career. Moderated by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, this will be the inaugural program in the “David H. Horowitz Music Innovation” series, which examines musical creativity and innovation through a variety of formats.

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

Get in the holiday spirit with free festive musical performances, book signings, crafts, special foods and more. The Muppet Christmas Carol will screen throughout the day in the Warner Bros. Theater. 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


Axelrod String Quartet Series Concert & Lecture
Saturday, Nov. 19 and Sunday Nov. 20
Pre-concert lecture 6:30 p.m.; Concert 7:30 p.m.
Hall of Music, Third Floor

The Axelrod String Quartet, comprised of Mark Destrubé (violin), James Dunham (viola), Marilyn McDonald (violin), and Kenneth Slowik (violincello), present Bach’s The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080.

Book Signings

Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness by Craig Nelson
Saturday, Nov. 5; 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Mall Store, Second Floor

Author Craig Nelson signs copies of his book, Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness. Combining a research team’s five years of work with his own re-examination of original evidence assembled by federal investigators, Nelson provides a step-by-step account of the attacks on Pearl Harbor from both the Japanese and American perspectives.

Events and Daily Programs

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, First Floor
Harvest for the Table: Wheat to Flour
Wednesdays; 2 – 3:30 p.m.

Explore how food and farming changed over the centuries by looking at how wheat was grown, threshed and ground to flour with technological changes over time. Historic recipes from Fannie Farmer’s first cookbook show how home cooks selected and used wheat flour in the kitchen. Visitors also have the opportunity to try milling wheat into flour.

Museum ABCs
Tuesdays; 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Museum ABCs is a drop-in program for 3 to 6 year olds and their adult companions that introduces early learners to the museum collection through letter learning.

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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Media only:

Amelia Avalos     
(202) 633-3129

Valeska Hilbig
(202) 633-3129