Preserving the Past for Kids in the Future

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Connor Pearson writes, As our bus pulled into the Smithsonian American History Museum…

As our bus pulled into the Smithsonian American History Museum , all of us were either looking out the window trying to pinpoint the spot we had been on The National Mall for the inauguration or we were talking. We then stepped off the bus and grouped up to talk about where we would all meet the curators: Dr. Larry Bird Jr., and Marylin Higgins from the division of Politics and reform. We got to ask them about the most exciting things that they have received. Dr. Bird mentioned that he liked many of the recent things that they have received and liked one-of-a kind items that meant something to individuals. One of those things was a hat that someone had worn to Obama’s inauguration. He saw a lady on the mall with a homemade hat that he could tell she had spent a lot of time making and he asked her if she would give up her hat and give it to the Smithsonian. She called back from her home in New Jersey and checked to make sure that he was who he said he was. She agreed to send it to the Smithsonian. Sometimes the article is unique and only they have it to show to the world. Marylin said that the most interesting thing she ever did was sew a loose button back on to Abe Lincoln’s pants before they were stored away. We all commented on how cool that would have been to see and touch our 16 th president’s pants. Once they get a donation they catalog it carefully and give it an accession number. Then, they put it in storage and wait for an exhibit to be designed that it can be a part of within the museum. For example, if someone had donated Lincoln’s top hat then they would put it in the already existing Lincoln exhibit or store it for a future exhibit. When they store it for the future exhibit they put in a warehouse or one of the specially designed storage cabinets onsite. Our teacher told us that some of the artifacts that were really old had been stored in a special way including the gloves that were found in Lincoln’s pants that were soaked with blood. Apparently they didn’t want any other kind of DNA getting on the gloves so they are on a silk pillow in storage right now.Then it was our turn to donate things we had brought to the museum. Some of the things we donated were Obama buttons from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, pins, a yellow backpack that our teacher Mrs. Pearson wore from the Yourhub/nextgen project, a stuffed donkey from the DNC that was in the yellow backpack, a blue beanie saying Inauguration 2009 Washington D.C. Dr. Bird and Marylin said that one of the most collectible items we gave was the beanie from the inauguration since we actually wore it and had a personal connection to it. He also said that if we didn’t want to we didn’t have to donate one because it had “grown” on us. The curators explained that working at the museum is really fun and you get to work with a lot of neat artifacts, like President Lincoln’s Hat, C-3PO from the Star Wars Series, and other neat things. I can’t wait to go to Washington D.C. and see if our buttons are on display… that would be the coolest thing of all. Submitted by: Connor Pearson and Rachael Israelsen