Calendar of Events - January 2016

January 1, 2016

Editor’s Note: All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Opening Exhibitions

Hooray for Politics!
First Floor, Center

Jan. 27 – TBD

This display will juxtapose 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 current candidates.

Closing Exhibitions

Hear My Voice: Experimental Sounds from Alexander Graham Bell’s Volta Laboratory
Albert Small Documents Gallery

Closes Jan. 6

Alexander Graham Bell, best remembered as the inventor of the telephone, played a key role in the history of sound recording and playback. From Bell’s Washington, D.C., research laboratory came commercial innovations—most notably the wax cylinder record and a new machine to record and play them. The exhibit features experimental recordings and laboratory notes from the early 1880s.  The recordings, long silent, are now audible through a 21st-century sound-recovery technique developed by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory staff in partnership with the Library of Congress. 

Toys and Childhood
East Corridor, First Floor
Closes Jan. 10

This showcase presents a selection of cast-iron and tinplate toys from the museum’s collection dating from the 1870s to the 1950s, illustrating the ever-evolving nature of American childhood and home life and bringing to light aspects of play. Included in the display are a variety of vehicles, from boats and airplanes to horse-drawn wagons, as well as fanciful toys relating to the American circus – acrobats, clowns and a miniature Ferris wheel.

Hart-Celler Act
“Of Note” Case, Second Floor, Artifact Walls
Closes Jan. 10

The Hart-Celler Act had far-reaching effects upon immigration to the United States by opening the possibility of coming to this nation for many people from around the world. Passage of the Act in 1965 was a water-shed event in configuring contemporary America--through the significant demographic shifts and cultural changes that resulted from it. The display marks the 50th anniversary of the Act.

EV1 Electric Car
First floor, center
Closes Jan. 19

The EV1, by General Motors, was the first modern electric car developed for commercial use. GM built 1,117 of the cars between 1996 and 1999; the EV1 was never mass produced. This EV1 is a first-generation 1997, with serial number 660, the last "Generation I" car produced. The vehicles were leased to drivers and GM ended the consumer test project in 2004.

Display: The Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990-2015
Second Floor, Mall entrance
Closes Jan. 31

As part the Smithsonian’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the museum features objects from the national collections that capture the significance and legacy of the ADA through the stories of four people.

Food Programming

American History (After Hours): The Great American Tailgate
January 14, 2016 6:30-8:30pm
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza

Tailgating at sporting events is a time-honored American tradition. But how and why did we as Americans eat and drink their way into celebrating sports? Join a conversation with historians, researchers, and sports fans on why and how we tailgate. Explore unique collections objects on display that tell the story of American ingenuity including the Igloo cooler, unique tailgating advertising and brands, sports-history objects, and more. 


The Axelrod Quartet: Stradivarius and Amati
Saturday, Jan. 23, and Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016; 7:30 p.m.
Hall of Music

The Axelrod Quartet — Marc Destrubé (violin), Marilyn McDonald (violin), James Dunham (viola) and Kenneth Slowik (violoncello) — presents Haydn: Quartet in D Major, Op. 76, No. 5, Mendelssohn: Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13 and Mendelssohn: Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 with guests the Excelsa Quartet: Laura Colgate and Audrey Wright (violins), Valentina Shohdy (viola), Kacy Clopton (violoncello).

Events and Daily Programs

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
Ask A Farmer
Saturday, Jan. 23; 2 p.m.

Join in a conversation with American female farmers about their stories and hear directly about what motivates them, what challenges them and how they are innovating American agriculture. This program brings together visitors with farmers to facilitate a discussion and broader understanding of the American agricultural world.

Meet the Wheelwoman
Tuesday-Saturday at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and 4:00 pm

Talk with a wheelwoman – a female bicycle rider from the 1890s – as she pedals around “Object Project” and The Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza on her safety bicycle, and learn how women used bicycles to change their lives.

Spotlight Tours
Daily, 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. (subject to docent availability)

Open daily except Tuesdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays

“Spark!Lab” is where museum visitors become inventors. The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation invites children between the ages of six and 12 to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment and invent. Activities for children and families incorporate traditional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with art, museum and creativity. 

Wegmans Wonderplace
Open daily except Tuesdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays

The museum’s early learning gallery combines age-appropriate activities with museum collections and touchable objects to provide a gateway to history and a place for children six and under to exercise curiosity.

Object Project
Daily, 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. (subject to docent availability)

“Object Project” features “everyday things that changed everything.” It will present familiar objects in a new light, exploring how people, innovative things and social change shaped life as we know it. Visitors will have the opportunity to see and handle objects, and explore their significance through demonstrations and docent-led activities. 


We the People: Making a More Perfect Union, One Generation at a Time
10:30, 11:30, 1:30 and 2:30*
Warner Bros. Theater
Daily, beginning Dec. 16

Debuting Wednesday, Dec. 16, the museum’s signature film “We the People” is a 20-minute celebration of the national ideals of democracy, opportunity and freedom. Stunning footage and a soaring soundtrack take viewers on a journey from past to present, honoring the visionary ideas, significant sacrifices and remarkable fortitude of the people who built our country, one generation at a time.  Produced by Smithsonian Channel.
*Subject to change

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. For more information, visit The museum is located on Constitution Avenue between 12th and 14th 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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