I am a new employee at the National Museum of American History. In fact, at the time of this writing, I have been working here for 9 weeks, 3 days, and 16 hours. Each morning I ride the elevator up 5 floors, walk past 36 doors, and work for approximately 8 hours. The numbers alone may not say it, but I work at a great place! Every day for the last 9 weeks, 3 days, and 14 hours, I have come to work and learned something new about the museum, the collections, and American history. At home “did you know?” has become a catch phrase for me.
For example, did you know that in 1914, during the first major conservation effort for the Star-Spangled Banner, 11 needlewomen attached a linen backing to the giant flag with approximately 1.7 million hand sewn stitches? And did you know that in 2001, during the second major conservation effort, conservators painstakingly removed those 1.7 million stitches in order to detach that same linen backing? Now, I’m not a numbers person—I studied history because I love stories—but sometimes numbers tell an incredible story: 1.7 million stitches, twice!
For the reopening of the museum we have gathered a few facts and numbers. If you take a few minutes to look over these numbers, I think you will find they tell a story about hard work, long hours, and dedication to the museum—and to creating a memorable experience for all of our visitors.
- 2 feet: approximate size of the stars on the Star-Spangled Banner
- 6 digital screens with visitor information in the new Welcome Center
- 10 degrees from horizontal: orientation of the Star-Spangled Banner in its new gallery
- 13 stars surrounding dark green inset marble in central atrium
- 23 vehicles on display in the America on the Move exhibition
- 30 by 34 feet: size of the Star-Spangled Banner
- 34 treads in the new Grand Staircase
- 40 feet of original 1932 pavement from Route 66 in America on the Move
- 45 pounds: weight of the Star-Spangled Banner
- 50 by 52 feet: dimensions of the Star-Spangled Banner chamber
- 70 degrees +/- 2 degrees; 50% relative humidity +/- 2%; temperature and humidity in the Star-Spangled Banner chamber
- 80 by 70 feet: dimensions of the Star-Spangled Banner gallery
- 275 linear feet of Artifact Walls
- 530 pieces of marble installed in east-west hallways, reusing the museum’s original marble
- 900 objects in Julia Child’s kitchen
- 960 pixels of mirrored polycarbonate make up the Abstract Flag
- 4,784 objects on display in the museum
- Approximately 10,000 lbs: weight of the table that the Star-Spangled Banner rests on
- 300,000 square feet of exhibition, programming, and public space in the museum
- 3,000,000 objects in the museum’s collection
- 3,000,000 annual visitors
Elizabeth Johnson is a special assistant for public programs at the National Museum of American History.