Music blasts toward the audience as concertgoers dance to Steve Aoki's pounding bass rhythms and bright LED displays. The DJ throws cakes...
Wartime often catalyzes developments in philanthropy. In 2017, the museum added the Bowl of Rice party banner, from fundraising efforts to...
In April 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May to be Jewish American Heritage Month. Jewish American objects in our collections...

Blog Posts in "Behind the Scenes"

An illustrated oversize coin head decorated with Romain coins
While installing a new exhibition called Really BIG Money, we—collections manager Jennifer and mount maker Laura—faced a number of...
Large stone shaped like a donut, with a hollow center. One side has cracked and broken away from the rest of the stone.
Long feathers that shimmer in the light. A formidably heavy stone ring. An iron blade taller than most children. A hoard of ancient coins...
Eight insignia patches decorated with symbols, including elk, moons, swords, and stars.
Like many around the world, I spent the afternoon of January 6, 2021, watching the news and absorbing the chaotic events unfolding at the U...
Conservator sews linen thread along the spine of the Caramelo Deportivo album
In preparation for an exhibition, all objects undergo a thorough assessment of their condition. Conservators determine whether the objects...
Wagon panels with faded artwork advertising a traveling production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, leaning against a wall outside a building
During my time at the museum’s object conservation lab, I discovered that a set of painted panels in the museum’s collection had quite a...
A skull.
There we were, two curators sifting centuries-old barrels of mud through a screen, when something surprising rolled out of the muck: a...
Woman wearing purple latex gloves presses gently into the inside of one of the Ruby Slippers into a case.
Many noses are pressed against the case that houses Dorothy's Ruby Slippers each day. The famous shoes from The Wizard of Oz attract a lot...
Close-up detail of the end of a fairy's wand. It's the shape of a star, covered in silver/white/gold gems or sparkly stones.
The museum's pair of Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz returned to display on October 19, 2018, after spending time in the museum's...
Woman in green shirt with purple latex gloves adjusts a microscope. She is looking at the Ruby Slippers.
Wielding an adorably tiny vacuum, objects conservator Dawn Wallace peered through her stereomicroscope at thousands of 80-year-old red...
Pair of Ruby Slippers with red sequins and bows, very sparkly but worn
Dawn Wallace and Richard Barden stood in the museum's objects conservation lab over two shoes. Red. Sequin-covered. Small heels. Petite in...
Small carved wooden animals
This is a story about toy boats, cats, a rat, religion, and mounts. What are mounts? It's ok, I get that question a lot. My job as...
On a white background lies a rectangular piece of paper with chunks missing. It looks like a puzzle because some pieces are lined up next to each other. There is a second partially destroyed document laying to the right.
The history behind a single object can often tell many stories. In 2004 the museum acquired a stock certificate from an early Internet...
An object that appears to be made of a rolled piece of crimped paper with accordion folds that is sat upright. There is a painted design on it that appears to be an eagle with American imagery.
Even before they got the vote, young people were historically involved in politics, particularly in the last half of the 19th century. From...
A woman stands inside a case with metal objects attached to poles, and there are lanterns hung up. She holds a white cloth out and attempts to clean the glass in front of her.
As collections managers and museum specialists, our job is to care, physically and intellectually, for the museum's objects. We research...
Color photo of two women in a kitchen surrounded by cookbooks, rosemary plants, dishes, plates, and more. One is holding a pan or pot and peering into it, while the other, by her side, does something that is hard to see due to a rosemary plant.
On the 105th anniversary of Julia Child's birth (August 15, 1912), the museum's food history team is thinking anew about Julia's life and...
A woman wearing a yellow sweater and wearing purple gloves carefully manipulates the fabric of a beautiful white gown with delicate flower and sequin details. The gown is one-shoulder strap. It was worn by First Lady Michelle Obama. The dress is on a form.
Sunae Park Evans probably knows Martha Washington’s measurements better than anyone, including her own seamstress. As the senior costume...
Brown fedora with brown ribbon band
"I'm sorry. The Ruby Slippers aren't on display right now."It's something that we here at the museum are preparing ourselves to have to say...
Costume on a faceless manikin includes pointed black hat tied with brown ribbon, white collar, burlap outfit, and hay pieces dangling.
Update: Your support has helped to make this project a reality! Our campaign to raise support to conserve Dorothy's Ruby Slippers and our...
A little girl admires the Ruby Slippers in a display case
At a little past 11:15 p.m. on Sunday, October 23, 2016, you took us somewhere over the rainbow. With over 5,300 backers, our "Keep Them...
Close-up photo of red sequins, cropped to a circle
Update: Thanks to you, our Kickstarter campaign to "Keep Them Ruby" was a success and we have the support we need to conserve and display...
One of the Ruby Slippers, with a small heel and a beaded bow, covered in sequins, sits under a microscope.
Update: Thanks to you, our Kickstarter campaign to "Keep Them Ruby" was a success and we have the support we need to conserve and display...
One woman kneels into a display case, placing glass objects onto a blue platform/display armature. Another woman holds design plans on paper and watches. In background, case is open to show objects and text panels.
Imagine you're setting a table with your finest glassware, and finding the best placement for each fragile and meaningful piece. Now...
A photo of the bicycle in front of a palm tree
An 1896 Columbia woman's bicycle, made by Pope Manufacturing Company and embellished with gems and gold by Tiffany & Co., is currently...
Photo of a concert on the museum's stage
Now that the first floor of our West Wing is open, I was curious what the head of our museum, Elizabeth MacMillan Director John Gray,...
Photo of bicycle
An 1896 women's safety bicycle, currently on view in the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project, has proven to be one of the...
Woman leans over table with white covering and flag in many pieces
In our textile conservation lab, the final pieces of a million piece jigsaw puzzle have just been put into place. The "puzzle" in question...
3D model of Mt. Vernon with red roof, white walls, green grass. Many columns and windows.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
Photo of display case that says "Consumer Era 1940s-1970s" featuring historic objects. One sign on display says "Sorry! Last car in this line."
On July 1, 2015, we will open a new exhibition: American Enterprise, in the Mars Hall of American Business. It is the...
Photo of the scultpure featured in the Business of Slavery section
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and issued General Orders, Number 3, which proclaimed that all...
Do Dorothy's ruby slippers still work if you tap them together three times? What's with the punctuation in our national anthem? Where can I...
Alexander Calder's "Gwenfritz"
If you’ve ever visited the museum, you've likely passed by an enormous abstract sculpture called Gwenfritz. After undergoing a massive...
After undergoing an extensive conservation process over the last year, the museum, along with colleagues at the Smithsonian American Art...
These 1961 Richard Avedon photographs capture First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wearing a dress designed in collaboration with Oleg Cassini, her official White House couturier
As staff of the National Museum of American History, we're often told that we have "the coolest jobs." We know we're lucky! But what's it...
A flag that has survived actual "bombs bursting in air" can surely survive anything, right? You’d be surprised. Maintaining the Star-...
table top connected to a chair
As the National Museum of American History marks its 50th anniversary, we also celebrate the many women who have enriched and informed the...
author with cookie monster
Yes, those of us on the museum staff know our jobs are awesome. Laura McClure of our Office of Exhibition Services shares what it's like to...
Photo of a black purse with a short handle. It is rectangular and bulges in the middle as though it's full. A little worn around the edges. Metal buckle.
Intern Peter Olson interviewed Curators Nancy Davis and William Yeingst, whose exhibition Camilla's Purse reveals the previously...
Elmo and Fozzie Bear wait in the conservation lab before their debut at the donation ceremony
On the anniversary of Jim Henson's birthday, the National Museum of American History received a donation of more than 20 Henson puppets and...
Sparked by a photograph, staff member Christopher Wilson discusses his relationship with music that spans the generations.It's amazing the...
One of the cola cans discovered in the museum's wallsMuseum people have a hard time throwing things away—our offices are proof of this....
Julia Child's Kitchen
On December 3, the museum announced the temporary closing of Bon Appetit! Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian. The last day to see...
Paper repair
Editor’s note: This blog is the fifth in a series of posts about the Jefferson bible conservation project.After careful analysis, it was...
Editor's note: This blog is the fourth in a series of posts about the Jefferson bible conservation project.It is difficult to describe how...
Detail of Bible text
Editor's note: This blog is the third in a series of posts about the Jefferson Bible conservation project.The Life and Morals of Jesus...
Have you ever wondered why the exterior of the National Museum of American History looks the way it does?Architectural sketch of the...
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of posts about critical conservation work being conducted on the Jefferson Bible, a treasured...
Jefferson's Bible
You may have heard or noticed that Dan Brown’s latest novel, The Lost Symbol, features Horatio Greenough’s statue of George Washington...
The Smithsonian hired architects Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) to create a plan which would meet our needs. Since the Mall is such a sensitive...

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