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Washington DC Museums

American History Museum

We could only choose only one Smithsonian museum to tour during our museum day and we chose the National Museum of American History. Mom wanted the girls to see the Inauguration Gowns and First Lady china patterns.

I noticed that the dressed weren’t presented in chronological order and were mixed between older and modern styles. Each dress showed how tall and size of each first lady. 

Right across the hall of First Ladies I found Abraham Lincoln’s original top hat and it’s considered one of the Institution’s most treasured objects.

 

Dorothy's ruby slippers
from the Wizard of Oz

Our next stop was to see the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz. This new exhibit just opened after a meticulous conservation effort to make sure the slippers remain ruby.

These size 5 shoes were worn by Garland when she was 16 years old in the movie. These icons of American history are the most popular and requested objects on display at the Smithsonian. There were 10 pairs made for the film and only 5 pairs are known to exist. This pair of slippers were anonymously donated in 1979 to the museum so the people could see them. 

We also saw several pieces of memorabilia from popular movies Wonder Women and Avengers. I really enjoyed the recreation of Julia Child’s kitchen.

National Archives

We had our timed ticket to visit the National Archives in the afternoon and as we walked into the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom a hush settled over the crowd. The first thing that catches your eye are the beautiful Faulkner Murals that hang on the curved walls fo the rotunda. They are among the largest single-piece oil-on-canvas murals in the United States. They depict fictional scenes of the presentation of the Declaration and Constitution.

The Charters of Freedom consist of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. These three documents are instrumental to the founding and philosophy of the United States.

The parchments are all so faded due to being displayed over many decades, including 35 years of exposure to sunlight opposite a window in the Patient Office Building. Today we see them through a sealed, bullet proof glassed enclosure to preserve the parchment and ink.

Photograph by Jeff Reed, National Archives

It’s also cold and dark in the rotunda due to trying to prolong the life of these precious documents. Photographs aren’t allowed in the Rotunda because the documents are so fragile and fade with light.

Museum of the Bible

During our trip each of us get to choose one thing we wanted to do and this was Mom’s thing. 

On the 3rd floor we went through the Stories of the Bible that featured the old testament and new testament walk through exhibit. These immersive exhibits walked us through major stories in both testaments.  

On the 4th floor a rare and beautiful display of hundreds of artifacts that held handwritten scrolls to mobile devices to show how reading the bible has changed through history.

There was a room that held a collection of Bible translations from all around the world. It was amazing to see how many have been translated but also how many more languages that have yet to be translated.

 

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