|Location||Washington, D.C., United States|
|Visitors||3.8 million (2017)|
|Director||Anthea M. Hartig|
|Architect||McKim Mead & White|
|Public transit access|
The National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center collects, preserves, and displays the heritage of the United States in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific, and military history. Among the items on display is the original Star-Spangled Banner. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and located on the National Mall at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, D.C.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
The Star-Spangled Banner, or the Great Garrison Flag, was the garrison flag that flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the naval portion of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Seeing the flag during the battle inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry", which, retitled with the flag's name from the closing lines of the first stanza and set to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven" by John Stafford Smith, later became the national anthem of the United States.
A museum is an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. Many public museums make these items available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. The largest museums are located in major cities throughout the world, while thousands of local museums exist in smaller cities, towns and rural areas. Museums have varying aims, ranging from serving researchers and specialists to serving the general public. The goal of serving researchers is increasingly shifting to serving the general public.
The museum opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology. It was one of the last structures designed by the renowned architectural firm McKim Mead & White. In 1980, the museum was renamed the National Museum of American History to represent its mission of the collection, care, study, and interpretation of objects that reflect the experience of the American people.
In May 2012, John Gray became the new director.He retired from the post in May 2018 and was succeeded by Anthea M. Hartig who was previously chief executive of the California Historical Society.
John Gray is an American businessman and museum administrator. He was the director of the National Museum of American History until 2018 and a former president and CEO of the Autry National Center.
The museum underwent an $85 million renovation from September 5, 2006 to November 21, 2008,during which time it was closed. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill provided the architecture and interior design services for the renovation, led by Gary Haney. Major changes made during the renovation include:
Gary Paul Haney FRIBA, FAIA is an American architect, a design partner in the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Haney's approach draws heavily on environmental modeling techniques, deep materials research, and advanced building information modeling (BIM) technologies. Buildings on which he was lead designer include the supertall Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait City and civic buildings in the United States including two Public Safety Answering Centers in New York City and the United States Census Bureau headquarters and the redesign of the National Museum of American History, both in Washington, D.C.
In 2012, the museum began a $37 million renovation of the west wing to add new exhibition spaces, public plazas and an education center.The renovation will also include panoramic windows overlooking the National Mall on all three floors and new interactive features to the exhibits. The first floor of the west wing reopened on July 1, 2015 with the second and third floors of the west wing reopening in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Each wing of the museum's three exhibition floors is anchored by a landmark object to highlight the theme of that wing. These include the John Bull locomotive, the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter, and a one of a kind draft wheel. Landmarks from pre-existing exhibits include the 1865 Vassar Telescope, a George Washington Statue, a Red Cross ambulance, and a car from Disneyland's Dumbo Flying Elephant ride.
Artifact walls, 275 feet (84 m) of glass-fronted cases, line the first and second floor center core. The artifact walls are organized around themes including arts; popular culture; business, work and economy; home and family; community; land and natural resources; peopling America; politics and reform; science; medicine; technology; and the United States' role in the world.
The lower level of the museum displays Taking America to Lunch, which celebrates the history of American lunch boxes. The museum's food court, the Stars and Stripes Café, and ride simulators are also located here.
The first floor's East Wing (called 1 East) has exhibits that feature transportation and technology; they include America on the Move and Lighting a Revolution. The John Bull locomotive is the signature artifact.
The exhibits in the West Wing (1 West) address science and innovation. They include Science in American Life featuring Robots on the Road and Bon Appétit! Julia Child's Kitchen.Spark!Lab is a hands-on exhibit of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. The Vassar Telescope is the signature artifact.
A café and the main museum store are also located on the first floor. The first floor also contains the Constitution Avenue lobby (1 Center), as well as a space for a temporary exhibit.
The exhibitions in 2 East, the east wing of the second floor, consider American ideals and include the Albert Small Documents Gallery featuring rotating exhibitions. From November 21, 2008 through January 4, 2009 an original copy of the Gettysburg Address, on loan from the White House, was on display. The Greensboro lunch counter is the signature artifact for this section of the museum.
Located in the center of the second floor (2 Center) is the original Star Spangled Banner Flag which inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. The newly conserved flag, the centerpiece of the renovated museum, is displayed in a climate-controlled room at the heart of the museum. An interactive display by Potion Design, just across the room from the flag, features a full-size, digital reproduction of the flag that allows patrons to learn more about it by touching different areas on the flag.
The George Washington statue, created in 1840 for the centennial of Washington's birthday, is the signature artifact for 2 West, the west wing of the second floor of the museum.
The second floor also houses the museum's new welcome center and a store. The second floor lobby leads out to Madison Drive and the National Mall.
Exhibits in the east wing of the third floor, 3 East, are focused on the United States at war; they include The Price of Freedom: Americans at War and The Gunboat Philadelphia . The Clara Barton Red Cross ambulance is the signature artifact.
The center of the third floor, 3 Center, presents The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, which explores the personal and public lives of the men who have held that office. It also features the popular permanent exhibit of First Ladies of America, which features their contributions, changing roles, and displays dresses as a mark of changing times.
The third-floor west wing, 3 West, has exhibits that feature entertainment, sports, and music. These include Thanks for the Memories: Music, Sports and Entertainment History, the Hall of Musical Instruments, and The Dolls' House. A car from Disneyland's Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride is the signature artifact.
In 1967, the 24-foot-tall (7.3 m) abstract sculpture, Infinity , was dedicated at the National Mall entrance. Designed by José de Rivera and created by Roy Gussow, it was one of the first abstract sculptures displayed at a major public building in Washington D.C. The sculpture is a 16-foot-long (4.9 m), polished stainless steel ribbon on top of a granite tower.
Alexander Calder's sculpture, Gwenfritz , was installed in a fountain on the west side. The steel abstract stabile was dedicated to the museum on June 2, 1969. In 1984, the museum moved the work to a site closer to Constitution Avenue until July 2013, when conservators removed it for restoration. The sculpture returned to its original site in November 2014, and sits in the midst of a re-crated reflecting pool.Calder's original plan for the sculpture envisioned it surrounded by water jets, but architects and engineers of the site determined that the fountain would be difficult to maintain and the water spray would hasten deterioration of the metal.
In support of the museum's mission, the Archives Center identifies, acquires, and preserves significant archival records in many media and formats to document America's history and its diverse cultures. Center staff arrange, describe, preserve, and make collections accessible in support of scholarship, exhibitions, publications, and education.
The Archives Center occupies over 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of shelving in the National Museum of American History building. Subject strengths include the history of radio, television, the telegraph, computing, and other aspects of the history of technology with a special interest in the history of invention; advertising, marketing, and entrepreneurship; commercial visual ephemera (post cards, greeting cards); American music (sheet music, jazz) and musical instruments. These, and a wide range of other subjects, are documented in business records, personal papers, and extensive holdings of motion picture film, video and sound recordings, historical photographs, and oral histories.
The Lemelson Center, an initiative of the Lemelson Foundation, produces educational programs, popular and academic publications, exhibitions, podcasts and symposia about invention. The mission of the Lemelson Center is to document, interpret and disseminate information about invention and innovation, encourage creativity in young people, and foster an appreciation for the central role of innovation in the history of the United States. The Center frequently provides a multi-year focus on some aspect of how invention has influenced American society, such as its 2002 "'Invention and the Environment" theme. Programs include an annual symposium, presentations and guest speakers, and often the publication of a book highlighting a particular topic.
The Center provides free curricular material to classrooms throughout the United States, organizes traveling museum exhibitions (such as Invention at Play), and provides research opportunities. It obtains archival collections related to invention for the museum's Archives Center. Such collections consist of the papers and materials that document the work of past and current American inventors.
The following individuals have served as the director of the NMAH. The museum was initially created on July 1, 1957 as the National Museum of American History within the United States National Museum; it became the National Museum of History and Technology in 1969 and the National Museum of American History in 1980.
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, also called the Air and Space Museum, is a museum in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1946 as the National Air Museum and opened its main building on the National Mall near L'Enfant Plaza in 1976. In 2016, the museum saw approximately 7.5 million visitors, making it the third most visited museum in the world, and the most visited museum in the United States. The museum contains the Apollo 11 command module, the Friendship 7 capsule which was flown by John Glenn, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the Bell X-1 which broke the sound barrier, the model of the starship Enterprise used in the science fiction television show Star Trek: The Original Series, and the Wright brothers' airplane near the entrance.
The Smithsonian Institution Building, located near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. behind the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery, houses the Smithsonian Institution's administrative offices and information center. The building is constructed of Seneca red sandstone in the faux Norman style and is nicknamed The Castle. It was completed in 1855 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It has free admission and is open 364 days a year. In 2016, with 7.1 million visitors, it was the fourth most visited museum in the world and the most visited natural-history museum in the world. Opened in 1910, the museum on the National Mall was one of the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to hold the national collections and research facilities. The main building has an overall area of 1,500,000 square feet (140,000 m2) with 325,000 square feet (30,200 m2) of exhibition and public space and houses over 1,000 employees.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an art museum beside the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., the United States. The museum was initially endowed during the 1960s with the permanent art collection of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. It was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was conceived as the United States' museum of contemporary and modern art and currently focuses its collection-building and exhibition-planning mainly on the post–World War II period, with particular emphasis on art made during the last 50 years.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, also called the Udvar-Hazy Center, is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)'s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. It holds numerous exhibits, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Enola Gay.
The Arts and Industries Building is the second oldest of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Initially named the National Museum, it was built to provide the Smithsonian with its first proper facility for public display of its growing collections. The building, designed by architects Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze, opened in 1881, hosting an inaugural ball for President James A. Garfield. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. After being closed for renovation, the building opened in the spring of 2016 for events and exhibitions. Since August 2016, the Director of the Art and Industries Building has been Rachel Goslins.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is a design museum located in the Upper East Side's Museum Mile in Manhattan, New York City. It is one of nineteen museums that fall under the wing of the Smithsonian Institution and is one of three Smithsonian facilities located in New York City, the other two being the George Gustav Heye Center in Bowling Green and the Archives of American Art New York Research Center in the Flatiron District. It is the only museum in the United States devoted to historical and contemporary design. Its collections and exhibitions explore approximately 240 years of design aesthetic and creativity.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is a museum in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian Institution. Together with its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery, SAAM holds one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of art, from the colonial period to the present, made in the United States. The museum has more than 7,000 artists represented in the collection. Most exhibitions take place in the museum's main building, the old Patent Office Building, while craft-focused exhibitions are shown in the Renwick Gallery.
The Museum of Science (MoS) is a science museum and indoor zoo in Boston, Massachusetts, located in Science Park, a plot of land spanning the Charles River. Along with over 700 interactive exhibits, the museum features a number of live presentations throughout the building every day, along with shows at the Charles Hayden Planetarium and the Mugar Omni Theater, the only domed IMAX screen in New England. The museum is also an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is home to over 100 animals, many of which have been rescued and rehabilitated from various dangerous situations.
The National Museum of African Art is the Smithsonian Institution's African art museum, located on the National Mall of the United States capital. Its collections include 9,000 works of traditional and contemporary African art from both Sub-Saharan and Arab North Africa, 300,000 photographs, and 50,000 library volumes. It was the first institution dedicated to African art in the United States, and remains the largest collection. The Washington Post called the museum a mainstay in the international art world and the main venue for contemporary African art in the United States.
Arthur Ganson is a kinetic sculptor. He makes mechanical art demonstrations and Rube Goldberg machines with existential themes. His moving sculptures have been exhibited at a number of science museums and art galleries. Ganson's work appeals to viewers of all ages, and has been featured in an animated children's television show. He has invented mass-produced children's toys, and hosts an annual competition to make Rube Goldberg chain reaction machines.
The New York State Museum is a research-backed institution in Albany, New York, United States. It is located on Madison Avenue, attached to the south side of the Empire State Plaza, facing onto the plaza and towards the New York State Capitol. The museum houses art, artifacts, and ecofacts that reflect New York’s cultural, natural, and geological development. Operated by the New York State Education Department's Office of Cultural Education, it is the nation's oldest and largest state museum. Formerly located in the State Education Building, the museum now occupies the first four floors of the Cultural Education Center, a ten-story, 1,500,000-square-foot (140,000 m2) building that also houses the New York State Archives and New York State Library.
The Museum of Arts and Sciences, often referred to as MOAS, is a museum in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States. The museum is a member of the American Alliance of Museums and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. It is home to over 30,000 objects, making it one of the largest museums in central Florida.
The Canada Science and Technology Museum is located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on St. Laurent Boulevard, to the south of the Queensway. The role of the museum is to help the public to understand the technological and scientific history of Canada and the ongoing relationships between science, technology and Canadian society.
The New Jersey State Museum is located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, New Jersey, overlooking the Delaware River. The museum is operated as part of the New Jersey Department of State. The museum's main collection of specimens, artifacts and objects date back to items collected in the early 19th century. The museum also includes a 140-seat planetarium and a 384-seat auditorium.
The Witte Museum was established in 1926 and is located in Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Texas. It is dedicated to telling the stories of Texas, from prehistory to the present. The permanent collection features historic artifacts and photographs, Texas art, textiles, dinosaur bones, cave drawings, and Texas wildlife dioramas, in addition to nationally acclaimed traveling exhibits. Artwork in the collection includes sculpture by San Antonio-born Bonnie MacLeary.
The Smithsonian Gardens, a division of the Smithsonian Institution, is responsible for the "landscapes, interiorscapes, and horticulture-related collections and exhibits", which serve as an outdoor extension of the Smithsonian's museums and learning spaces in Washington, D.C. Established in 1972 as a groundskeeping and horticulture program, Smithsonian Gardens currently manages 180 acres of gardens on the National Mall, 64,000 square feet of greenhouse production space, and the Archives of American Gardens, a research collection of over 60,000 photographs and archival records covering American landscape history from the 1870s to the present.
Smithsonian Affiliations is a division of the Smithsonian Institution that establishes long-term partnerships with non-Smithsonian museums and educational and cultural organizations, in order to share collections, exhibitions and educational strategies and conduct joint research.
The Rockwell Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate museum of American art located in the Finger Lakes region in downtown Corning, New York. Frommer's describes it as "one of the best-designed small museums in the Northeast." In 2015, The Rockwell Museum was named a Smithsonian Affiliate, the first in New York State outside of New York City.
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