Symbols of a New Nation

Smithsonian Exhibition Explores Patriotic Imagery at Washington Antiques Show
November 12, 2005
For more than 200 years, American identity and culture have continuously evolved, while the ideals connected to its patriotic symbols, such as the flag and Lady Liberty, have remained firm. In “Symbols of a New Nation,” the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will present the various ways Americans have incorporated patriotic symbols into both distinctive and everyday objects. The exhibition will be on view at the 51st Washington Antiques Show, Jan. 4-8, 2006, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. This exhibition is the result of a unique collaboration between the museum and the Washington Antiques Show and will allow the museum to reach a broad audience with interests in American history and objects from the nation’s shared past. The theme of the 2006 show, “Sweet Land of Liberty,” provides the museum with an excellent opportunity to explore the use of patriotic symbols through a variety of artifacts from its collections. “As the home of the Star-Spangled Banner— the flag that inspired the national anthem— the museum is a place to contemplate the symbols that give form and substance to our nation’s founding ideals,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “From the time of the Revolution, icons like the flag, the eagle, George Washington and Lady Liberty have expressed American patriotism and defined American identity,” he added. Featured objects in “Symbols of a New Nation” reflect the wide range of the museum’s collections, from folk art and ceramics to military history. Items on display will include a Lady Liberty ship carving, a fire bucket adorned with George Washington’s portrait, a Goddess of Liberty weathervane, a military drum from the War of 1812 and a commemorative jug from the first U.S. census in 1790. Another preview exhibition, continuing to examine the meaning of the American flag in American life, will travel to Chicago’s McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in April 2006. For more information about the National Museum of American History, visit the museum’s Web site at