Calendar of Events January 2017

January 3, 2017

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:
Inauguration visitor information: As of this calendar update, extended hours have not been determined. Please check for extra security information and hours.

Opening Exhibitions

American Ballet
First Floor, Center
Opening Jan. 27

This display showcases costumes worn by ballerinas Violette Verdy, Marianna Tcherkassky and Misty Copeland. Ballet was first introduced to the United States in the 1930s through performances by European and Russian companies. Influenced by Russian dancer George Balanchine, American dance was adopted and reimagined on vaudeville stages. Verdy’s displayed costume was created in 1976, by former Ballet Russes costumer Barbara Balinksa, for a White House state dinner. Also on view is Tcherkassky’s costume, created by long time Washington Ballet costume designer May Ishimoto in 1977, for her leading role in Giselle. Copeland made history in 2015 when she became the first African American woman to be named the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Her costume was worn that year for her Broadway debut in On the Town.

Closing Exhibitions

The Norie Marine Atlas and the Guano Trade
Albert Small Documents Gallery
Closes Jan. 29

This display highlights John Norie's unique Marine Atlas, a large bound book of sea charts dating to the early 19th century, within the historical context of the guano and nitrate trades, in which many of the swiftest and strongest American square-rigged sailing ships were employed in the mid-19th century. The Atlas is augmented by images and models of American clipper ships; pamphlets of the Pacific Guano Company of Woods Hole, Mass.; nitrate voyage track charts acquired from a member of the International Association of Cape Horners; and associated materials.

Toys and Childhood
East Corridor, First Floor
Closes Jan. 8

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.

Laughing Matters
Artifact Wall, First Floor
Closes Jan. 23

This display looks into the stories of three comedians who changed the face of comedy. It highlights the power of laughter in the realm of social and political discussion through the careers of Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett and Miss Piggy, a creation of Jim Henson. The case features the “charwoman” costume, donated by Burnett to the museum in 1988, along with a costume worn by Diller during Bob Hope’s USO Christmas Tour in 1967, gifted to the museum by Diller, the hand and rod puppet, Miss Piggy, donated to the museum by the family of Jim Henson in 2013 and other objects defining the power of laughter.

Food History Programming

Cooking Up History: Changing Ideas of Healthy Eating in 19th Century America
Saturday, Jan. 14, 12:30 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza

L’Academie de Cuisine Chef Brian Patterson will look to history for how ideas about diet and nutrition have changed over time. While preparing some recipes from 19th century American cookbooks, Patterson will explore the era of Sylvester Graham, Ellen White and other dietary reformers, whose ideas about whole grains and vegetarianism influenced the foods many Americans put on their tables.

Cooks and Books: “How to Eat Paleo, (When You Don’t Live in a Cave)"
Saturday, Jan. 14; 2 – 3 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza

Author Cynthia Spivey and chef Ailsa von Dobeneck will prepare recipes from Spivey’s book, “How to Eat Paleo,” while discussing the Paleo diet and healthy recipes found in historic menus. Following the demo, Spivey will sign copies of the book which will be available for purchase.

American History (After Hours): Creating the Wild West
Jan. 26; 6:30 – 9 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza

The “Wild West” is one of America’s most powerful and iconic images. But why does this story endure? Join the museum as we explore the history of America’s Wild West, from the myth to reality, from the 19th century to today. See an expert panel, themed appetizers and drinks and rarely seen objects out of storage. To purchase tickets go to:


Smithsonian Chamber Music Society Presents English Consort of Music
Saturday, Jan. 7 and Sunday, Jan. 8; at 7:30 p.m.;
Pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m.
Hall of Music, Third Floor
For ticket information, visit:

As part of the Masterworks of Four Centuries series, the Smithsonian Consort of Viols — Kenneth Slowick, Lucine Musaelian, Rebekah Ahrendt, Catherine Slowick, Loren Ludwig and Arnie Tanimoto with Webb Wiggins (organ) — presents English Consort Music of the Elizabethan and Jacobean Eras.

Axelrod String Quartet Presents Haydn, Webern and Brahms
Saturday, Jan. 14 and Sunday Jan. 15
Pre-concert lecture 6:30 p.m.; Concert 7:30 p.m.
Hall of Music, Third Floor

As part of their Stradivarius and Amati series, the Axelrod Quartet — Marc Destrubé (violin), Marilyn McDonald (violin), James Dunham (viola) and Kenneth Slowik (violoncello) — present Haydn: Quartet in D Major, Op. 76, No. 5; Webern: Langsamser Satz and Brahms: Quartet in A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2.

Daily Programs

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plazaz
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, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed 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 0 – 6 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, 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30* Daily
Warner Bros. Theater

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. It is currently renovating its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on 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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