Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Empowering people to create a just and compassionate future by exploring, preserving, and sharing the complexity of our past. The National Museum of American History is home to more than 1.8 million objects and more than three shelf miles of archival collections. On behalf of the nation, we preserve and share this extraordinary national collection encompassing everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner to Abraham Lincoln’s top hat; from the first computer bug to the first artificial heart; from Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet to Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Our archival collections include a remarkable array of American history in documents, photographs, and other works, including major holdings on the histories of American business and music.
Our artifacts form a fascinating mosaic of American life and comprise the greatest single collection of American history in the world. The museum’s exhibitions explore fundamental American ideals and ideas—such as democracy, opportunity, and freedom—and major themes in American history and culture, from European contact in the Americas to the present day. At the heart of the museum is our deeply moving exhibition on our most iconic artifact, The Star-Spangled Banner, The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem.
New West Wing exhibitions opened in 2017 include American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith and Many Voices, One Nation, which ask visitors the question, “What kind of nation do we want to be?” Major exhibitions on innovation, money, and business history explore these topics from a range of perspectives and challenge visitors to consider what is distinctively American about them. The full reinvention of the West Wing will be completed in 2020 with the opening of new third floor exhibitions on entertainment, culture, and the arts.