As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed. No reopening date has been announced; see our website and social media channels for updates.

Statement Regarding Collecting Artifacts From Jan. 6 Capitol Siege, Rallies and Inauguration Events

January 14, 2021

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History continues to build the nation’s premier political history collection and is collecting artifacts related to the political events of January 2021, including the storming of the Capitol, political rallies, the second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, and the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden. Staff are working with federal agencies, congressional offices and the Biden Inaugural Committee. In addition, the museum will consider public submissions through email at 2020ElectionCollection@si.edu.

Our experienced curators, guided by the history and significance of a political history collection that dates back to President George Washington, will make decisions about what to add over time and work to ensure an illustrative and inclusive collection that represents current events. Rapid-response collecting—designed to preserve ephemera such as posters, signs and banners that could easily disappear or be disposed of—was conducted following the siege of the Capitol Jan. 6.

Our staff adheres to the highest professional ethics in collecting. Following protocols put in place in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the museum’s work may not interfere with any federal or criminal investigations. In addition, in doing this work, the safety of our staff takes priority.

As the nation continues to wrestle with cascading pandemics—from COVID-19 to racial inequities to economic and political crises—the National Museum of American History will continue to document and educate, as reflected in the Jan. 8 statement issued by the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director, Anthea M. Hartig. Further information about the museum’s political history collecting is outlined in this fact sheet.

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