Calendar of Events - July 2016

July 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. The museum will operate extended hours throughout the summer, staying open until 7:30 p.m., except for July 4, when the museum will close at 7 p.m. Exceptions apply; visit

New Displays

Cyrus Field and the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable
July 1 – Nov. 30
Archives Center
Innovation Wing, First Floor

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.  

Laughing Matters
July 22 – Oct. 2016
Artifact Wall, First Floor

“Laughing Matters,” is a display that looks into the stories of three comedians who changed the face of comedy. The showcase will highlight 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 will feature 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.

New Objects on Display

John Deere Plow, Genentech Fermenter and a Civil War Printing Press
July 8 TBD
Artifact Wall, Second Floor

The steel plow and polished moldboard developed by John Deere in 1838 will go on display as will the fermenter used at Genentech during the early 1980s to grow recombinant bacteria for the production of proteins to be used as medicine. The Adams Cottage Press No. 4, patented in 1861, will also be on display. Printing presses such as this one inspired military and amateur printers during and after the Civil War to make use of these portable devices to print military orders, receipts, bill heads and other documents.

Culture Exhibition Preview Case
July 22 Oct. 2016
Artifact Wall, First Floor

Recent acquisitions representing the museum’s Division of Culture and the Arts will be on display to preview an upcoming exhibition on American culture. Objects include the 2015 NCAA March Madness tournament brackets filled out by President Barack Obama and donated to the museum in March 2015. The signature orange Gretsch guitar Brian Setzer donated to the museum in October 2015 is a replica of Setzer’s original 1959 Gretsch 6120 “Stray Cat” guitar. The iconic green-and-white New York Jets jacket worn by Fred Savage’s character “Kevin Arnold” on the television series “The Wonder Years” and donated in December 2014, as well as several set items from the television series “Mad Men,” donated to the museum in March 2015.

Featured Event

March on Washington Film Festival
Tuesday, July 19; 3 – 4 p.m.
Friday, July 22; 3 – 4 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza

The museum will co-host two events with the March on Washington Film Festival which strives to increase awareness of the events and heroes of the Civil Rights era.

  • Tuesday, July 19 – The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
    Author Jeanne Theoharris presents a lecture on her definitive political biography of Rosa Parks that examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of Parks as an “accidental actor” in the Civil Rights movement.
  • Friday, July 22 – Shared Legacies: Honoring the Black/Jewish Civil Rights Allegiance
    A conversation with Dr. Clarence Jones (personal adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and Rabbi Ben Kamin (author, Dangerous Friendship: Stanley Levison, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Kennedy Brothers) on the influence and contributions of Mr. Levison to the Civil Rights movement and his controversial relationship with Dr. King.

Food History

Ask A Farmer
Wednesday, July 6; 2 p.m.
Wednesday, July 20; 2 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza

Join in a conversation with American farmers about their stories and hear directly about what motivates them, what challenges them and how they are innovating American agriculture. Using modern technologies to transcend the limitations of geography, this program brings together visitors with farmers in the field to facilitate a discussion and broader understanding of the American agricultural world.

Cooking Up History: Basque Food in America
Friday, July 8; 2 p.m.

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, Demonstration Kitchen,
First Floor, West Wing
For more information, visit:

“Cooking Up History” showcases a guest chef and a Smithsonian host preparing a recipe while discussing its ingredients, culinary techniques and history. After a 45-minute demonstration, visitors will have the opportunity to purchase a dish inspired by the demonstration in the museum’s Stars & Stripes Cafe.

Kids Cooking Demonstration: Healthy Lunchtime Challenge 2016 Winners
Wednesday, July 13, 3 – 3:30 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, Demonstration Kitchen
First Floor, West Wing

Come to the Demonstration Kitchen in the Coulter Plaza to meet some of the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime

Challenge winners and see them prepare salads, wraps and other healthy recipes that have won them the opportunity to attend the 5th annual Kids’ State Dinner at the White House.

First Lady Michelle Obama teamed up with PBS flagship station WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to host the annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ “State Dinner” to promote cooking and healthy eating among youth.


Star-Spangled American Music Series
Thursday, July 14, 21, 28; Noon, 1 and 2 p.m.

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza

The Star-Spangled American Music Series highlights classic music styles, including chamber music, popular music, Celtic, bluegrass, blues, vocal music and jazz as interpreted through live performances of signature music units from the U.S. Air Force Band, the U.S. Navy Band, the U.S. Army Band and the U.S. Marine Corps Band. 

July 7               U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note Ensemble
July 14             U.S. Navy      
July 21             U.S. Army
June 28            U.S. Marine Corps

Objects Out of Storage

Places of Invention: Hartford, CT
Wednesday, July 13; Noon – 1 p.m.
Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation, First Floor

The Places of Invention exhibition takes visitors on a journey through time and place across America to discover the stories of people who lived, worked, played, collaborated, adapted, took risks, solved problems and sometimes failed in the pursuit of something new. One of the stories and communities featured in the exhibition is precision manufacturing in Hartford, CT. Curators will show off objects from the national collections not ordinarily on display that relate to the factory town in the late 1800s.

Book Signings

An American Family in World War II by Sandra O’Connell
Saturday, July 2; 12 – 5 p.m.
Mall Store, Second Floor

Author Sandra O’Connell signs copies of “An American Family in World War II,” which uses the correspondence between Ralph Lee Minker Jr., a U.S. Army Airman in 1943, and his parents and two teenage sisters to tell the riveting story of life in America during World War II.

The President and Me: George Washington and the Magic Hat by Deborah Kalb
Saturday, July 9; 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Mall Store, Second Floor

Author Deborah Kalb signs copies of “The President and Me: George Washington and the Magic Hat,” which tells the story of Sam, a fifth-grade boy struggling to find his place when his best friend abandons him. Sam’s class take a trip to Mt. Vernon and accidentally buys a three-cornered hat that takes him to the 18th century.

Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-Year Hike on America’s Trail by Jeffrey Ryan
Wednesday, July 13 and Thursday, July 14; 1 – 3 p.m.

Mall Store, Second Floor

Author Jeffrey Ryan signs copies of “Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-Year Hike on America’s Trail,” which recounts his experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail by taking it weeks, and sometimes days, at a time. The book includes 75 color photos and offers history of the trail and practical advice.

Smithsonian Sleepovers

Smithsonian Sleepovers at American History
Friday, July 29; 7 p.m.
Presidential Reception Suite, First Floor
Tickets Required: For more information, visit:

This Smithsonian Associates program invites children ages 8 to 12 and their grown-up companions to take part in a night that features tours, games, crafts, a film and more. For more information, call (202) 633-3030. 

About the Museum

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is continuing to renovate its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on democracy, immigration and migration and culture. For more information, visit The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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