Phew! That’s all I can say about compiling the highlights from another remarkable year at the museum.
We kicked off the year in style, with Southern Living magazine announcing in January that their readers voted us the Best Museum in D.C.! Over the course of 12 months, the museum welcomed more than 4 million visitors. Our exhibitions, educational programs, and special events inspired people from across the country and around the world to visit and see for themselves the treasured objects that help tell the stories of our nation’s past.
[Don't see the slideshow above? View the images on Flickr.]
It was a year of historical anniversaries. Among other events, we commemorated:
- 50th anniversary of the Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-In
- 50th anniversary of COBOL
- 50th anniversary of lasers
- 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America
- 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution
- 145th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination
The museum collects artifacts of all kinds—from gowns to locomotives—to preserve for the American people an enduring record of their past. In 2010 we collected a range of fascinating objects, including (in no particular order):
- a rare 18th century milk pot symbolic of the Boston Tea Party
- Michelle Obama’s inaugural ball gown
- Sam and Friends puppets including the original Kermit the Frog
- a dress worn by dancer Judith Jamison
- a rare Black Wall Street film depicting African American life in Tulsa
- 75 years of auto safety innovations including the Vince and Larry crash-test dummies
- artifacts from the 50 year history of Lutron Electronics
- a suicide-prevention phone illustrating American ingenuity in technology and in how we care for one another
- a Micro-Z and a TruView camera system from Lifetouch Inc.
- a red fedora and purple-feather boa from the Red Hat Society
- a prototype of a Medical Emergency Crash Cart (“Max”)
- historic food coupons from the USDA
- a racquet from from the Isner-Mahut match at Wimbledon, the longest in the history of tennis
- an important collection of film and sheet music covering everything from early Broadway to TV show themes
- a cane used by President John F. Kennedy during World War II
This year we webcasted more events than ever before. Video from seven events is available online, including:
- a special ceremony honoring the Greensboro Four in recognition of their contribution to civil rights in America
- a series of lectures on Abraham Lincoln
- a discussion with the cast members of Porgy and Bess
- a symposium on the influence of the Mexican Revolution in the United States
- a concert by the Pablo Aslán Quintet in celebration of the 9th annual Jazz Appreciation Month
In addition to these very special events, millions of visitors continued to enjoy daily theatrical programming. These programs, such as Join the Student Sit-ins, bring objects and historical events to life and encourage audience participation and discussion.
Highlights from the 2010 slate of exhibitions include:
- a letter from George Washington
- the first plastics
- childhood toys
- inaugural gowns of 11 modern First Ladies
- a star map from the 1700s
- artifacts illustrating the way Americans used entertainment to distract themselves during 1939
And that’s not all! We hosted several citizenship ceremonies with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, helped a creative young man with his marriage proposal, launched an incredible new online resource featuring all 2,500 pages of William Steinway’s Diary, and invited you to vote for your favorite car in our Race to the Museum poll.
How on earth are we able to accomplish so many amazing things in the span of 365 days? With hardworking staff and critical support from our generous donors. If you’d like to help us prepare for an exciting 2011, you can make a donation before midnight on Friday and benefit from a 2010 tax deduction. Let’s make history together!
Dana Allen-Greil is the new media project manager at the National Museum of American History.