American History Museum to Close for Nearly Two Years
By Jacqueline Trescott Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, April 12, 2006; 1:36 PM
The National Museum of American History will close for almost two years, the Smithsonian Institution announced this morning. The shutdown will allow the museum -- keeper of items ranging from the gunboat Philadelphia to Dorothy's Ruby Red Slippers -- to build a new gallery for the Star-Spangled Banner and overhaul and update the building's interior.
The 42-year-old museum, the largest history museum in the country and the third most popular of the Smithsonian's museums, will close on Labor Day. Construction is expected to be completed by the summer of 2008.
The centerpiece of the new plan will be a dramatic enclosure for the banner, the flag that few over Fort McHenry during the British bombardment of 1814 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that became the national anthem. The Smithsonian has had the flag since 1907. During the past eight years, the flag has undergone thorough restoration and the Smithsonian announced today that it is complete.
Its new home will be a theatrical setting, with the lights dimmed to evoke the "dawn's early light," with Key's words floating behind it and the flag tilted 12 degrees upward. It will no longer be hung vertically because of the stress on the wool and cotton fibers. The flag's gallery will be behind a soaring 19 foot abstract flag and panels at the entrance and exit of the enclosure will tell the history of the flag and the restoration project.
"This is the beginning of our architectural transformation," said Brent D. Glass, the museum's director. Glass said the decision to close the entire museum was made reluctantly after it became clear that this was the quickest, safest, and most cost effective way to do the work.
The project will cost approximately $85 million, with $45 million coming from the federal government. The museum will use $16 million of the $80 million gift from businessman Kenneth E. Behring. Sheila Burke, the deputy secretary and chief operating officer, said the Smithsonian needs to raise about $25 million from private sources for the renovations.
The design by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill will include a five-story central atrium with a skylight, a glass staircase between the first and second floors and 10-foot-high "artifact walls" on the first and second floors. The panels will contain items from the museum's 3-million object collection. There will also be a new welcome center off the Mall entrance that will give visitors more guidance about the displays in the museum. A blue ribbon commission in 2002 suggested that the museum needed an overhaul because it as cluttered and disorganized.
"You will be able to identify the purpose of the museum as you walk through the door," said Gary Haney, a partner in the design firm.
Makes me glad I have had a chance to wander through last month.
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Thread: Sad And Kuul All At Once
04-12-2006, 02:31 PM #1
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04-12-2006, 03:52 PM #2
I went there a couple of years ago and it was a great place to visit. I'd like to see Old Glory repaired as I got to see her in the process of being repaired when I was there.
Still beautiful after 90 years. I think the tatters and battle scars give her a sense of even more honor, they are as much a part of our history as the flag itself."Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers
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04-12-2006, 03:59 PM #3
This is a great museum and it stinks that it will be shut down for a while. but if it makes it better, its good.------------------------------------
These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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