After extensive renovations, the National Museum of American History re-opens on Nov. 21. You can follow the progress on a fascinating blog that’s running on the museum’s website.
The NMAH is one of the newer buildings in the Smithsonian chain, but this revamped interior was badly needed. I’ve always found the old floor plan extremely hard to navigate. From what I’ve seen online, the new design promises to be much more open than the old interior’s dark corridors and low ceilings.
When I was a kid, the Smithsonian was about as close to Mecca as you could get, although I was usually more interested in the Nationl Museum of Natural History than the NMAH. For a five-year-old, a fossil gallery and a preserved squid carcass in the same building is pretty hard to beat. I’m still a dinosaur fanatic, but I’ve mellowed enough to spend a few hours with the historical artifacts down the road.
Museums serve their visitors by teaching them, but also by simply bringing them face-to-face with the raw materials of history. In terms of the significance of its holdings, the NMAH isn’t just a museum, it’s our national temple.
(The image of the Star-Spangled Banner is from the NMAH’s website.)