“Entertainment” at the Smithsonian
If you want to be reminded about why this country is so great – scars, foibles, protests, societal inequity, racism, and all – pay a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. New and updated exhibits have done an excellent job of inclusion and haven’t shied away from the darkest segments of our history. Admission is free.
Not to say we are done growing as a nation, we still have much room to improve. But this museum puts our history in context and you can clearly chart positive change. As the Smithsonian PR materials explain this museum, “It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.” It makes me feel proud to be an American.
The new exhibit, “Entertainment Nation” is just what it says – a comprehensive look at how we have entertained ourselves through the decades and how that entertainment shaped our national conversation. I loved seeing Dorothy’s red slippers (a long-popular Smithsonian offering), the famous directional sign pole from the MASH TV series, the incorrigible Star Wars duo C-3PO and R2-D2, as well as the well-worn chairs used by Archie and Edith in All in the Family. Located in the new Culture Wing, the 7,200-square-foot gallery will feature rotating exhibits.
Our Millennium-aged daughter was looking at the science portion of the exhibit with pics and info about Bill Nye The Science Guy when she looked up and did a double-take. Bill Nye told her, “It’s me, I’m not dead yet!” She laughed and exchanged a few words, then he wandered over to his exhibit where he was promptly mobbed.
Anyone who knows my husband knows the trains in the transportation exhibit were a highlight. It was interesting for us the see the significance of the terminal in Salisbury, NC, where the wonderful NC Transportation Museum is based (technically in Spencer, NC); another place definitely worth a visit.
It was so interesting to see the original Star Spangled Banner. Here we are outside the exhibit (no photos allowed inside).
While walking to the museum, we chatted with a security guard, who told us his job was up in the clock tower at the Waldorf (see below), which he explained has wonderful views of the District. It’s a good tip and we will be sure to check it out in the near future.