This is a picture of one of my favorite displays in the American History Museum* in Washington D.C., one of the many Smithsonian museums that flank the National Mall. It’s the dress (very clearly made from curtains) that Carol Burnett wore to play the famous scene in Gone With the Wind in which Scarlet O’Hara wears her less-overt-as-window-dressing version.
This is what I love about the American History Museum, the pop culture – of course – but also the pride, the happiness I felt as exhibit after exhibit celebrated our beginning and our struggles, plus our joy, enthusiasm, and innovation. Next to this fun display, I snapped a picture of Dorothy’s ruby slippers, and a flying Dumbo from the famous ride at Walt Disney World.
Another amazing exhibit here is the Hart House, the museum’s largest artifact. The more than two-story home was built in the 1760s and is now the centerpiece to Within These Walls showcasing interior design through history. The museum features all kinds of home furnishings, portraits, and tools.
The Star Spangled Banner is proudly displayed here in a protective case with dim lighting and other precautions for its protection. The giant, tattered flag is the very one that flew the night the lyrics were penned to our still-treasured National Anthem. It’s a powerful, moving exhibit. Like most museums, this one offers daily and special activities for students. When I was there I saw a group with a giant flag of their own as they worked together to fold it.
The museum has many permanent exhibits, of course – Abraham Lincoln’s tall hat and Thomas Jefferson’s writing desk, for instance. But as with the entire Smithsonian Institution, there are far too many artifacts to display at once, so you will find temporary exhibits and changing ones. The First Ladies Gallery is a very popular exhibit and its display sometimes rotated. Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown is currently showcased as well as those for Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, and so many more. It’s an amazing look at our history that highlights many things about us, including our love for fashion and the celebrity our White House holds for us similar to European royalty.
I love everything about this country – even its flaws as we have such a beautiful right to discover them and to fight for their reversal. And this museum is a celebration of all that we are. It’s a beautiful museum with a beautiful story to tell, and it’s an absolute must for Washington D.C. educational tours.