TWITTER FEED

October 27, 2011

Remembering America’s Real War of Independence

Most of us know little about the War of 1812.  What were its causes, when did it start, who were its heroes and how did it end?  If we remember anything at all, it may be the burning of Washington, D.C., the bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry – the event that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen our national anthem – and perhaps Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans (fought two weeks after the signing of the treaty that ended the war).  For most of us the rest is a long-forgotten chapter in dusty old textbooks.  An upcoming exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will assemble a remarkable number of paintings and artifacts from the War of 1812 in an effort to remind us that it was this war that completed the unfinished business of the American Revolution and secured our true independence from the British, once and for all. 

The Star Spangled Banner at the National Museum of American History. Photo courtesy National Museum of American History.

As the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 approaches, two artifacts stand out as enduring symbols of this era:  the original Star Spangled Banner, on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the USS Constitution, the victorious naval vessel, still commissioned and now docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. 

The USS Constitution near the USS Constitution Museum in Boston. Photo by Smithsonian Affiliations.

On October 20, I had the honor of announcing our new Affiliation with the USS Constitution Museum, thus symbolically joining these two great artifacts into one family.  Both tell us much about the sacrifices of prior generations and the many hardships endured along the road to freedom. Both are also amazing examples of the combined efforts of generations of concerned citizens, public officials, historians and museum professionals to preserve these precious legacies  of our nation’s early and fragile years. 

We hope that the upcoming Bicentennial of the War of 1812 will draw further attention to the work that museums are doing to preserve our nation’s past and draw lessons for our future.  Are there any War of 1812 stories, artifacts, or historic landmarks in your communities?  Let us hear from you so that we can work together to present the fullest picture of this critical part of our history. 

Harold A. Closter
See more photos from Harold’s visit to the museum here.

Smithsonian Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, with USS Constitution commanding officers. Photo by Smithsonian Affiliations.

September 30, 2010

Our Nation’s First President at the North Carolina Museum of History!

Last month, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Garden’s traveling exhibition Discover the Real George Washington: New Views From Mount Vernon, completed it’s run at the Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA). The exhibition is now on view at the North Carolina Museum of History through January 21, 2011.

With just over 100 objects, one will find the only surviving complete set of Washington’s dentures made of ivory, human teeth and animal teeth; and three life-size figures of Washington based on cutting-edge forensic research, showing him at different stages.  The exhibition does a wonderful job in revealing stories of his role as a young land surveyor, farmer, entrepreneur, our nation’s first president, his achievements, and his family life. 

In addition, the museum produced an exhibition showing Washington’s ties to the state of North Carolina. The museum focuses on Washington’s experiences as a surveyor at the Great Dismal Swamp in 1763 and his 1791 presidential tour through North Carolina. The museum has also produced a small lobby exhibit about Washington’s lifelong friendship with the Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who came to the United States to support the cause of American independence. Lafayette later visited North Carolina as part during a much-celebrated tour of the United States. Visitors can view artifacts concerning Lafayette in the American Revolution, as well as memorabilia related to his 1825 visits to Fayetteville and Raleigh.

 

Privacy

site designed by - ivey doyal