SOM in the Press

Newly Improved American History Museum Reopens

Photo © Eduard Hueber

Source: The Washington Post

The National Museum of American History -- home to a broad mix of historical and pop-culture treasures from the Star-Spangled Banner to Julia Child's kitchen -- reopens tomorrow after an $85 million overhaul.

Smithsonian officials wanted the retooled facility to be encyclopedic but also to connect with every visitor. Glass, director since 2002, called it a "transformation project."

The results? It's lighter: There's a dramatic influx of openness and natural light -- the result of cutting through five floors to create an atrium topped by a skylight -- in a space nearly everyone agreed was claustrophobic. And it's darker: The fragile Star-Spangled Banner has been moved from the main entrance off the Mall to its own dimly lighted gallery with new panels telling the history of the flag, which flew in 1814 above Fort McHenry in Baltimore and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key's poem that became the national anthem.

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