'American Stories': It's All About Us

American History museum interim director Marc Pachter, next to Dorothy's ruby slippers from "the Wizard of Oz."
Robert Devaney
American History museum interim director Marc Pachter, next to Dorothy's ruby slippers from "the Wizard of Oz."

"American Stories," the newest signature exhibition at the National Museum of American History opened today and shows and tells the stories of Americans from the 1600s to the 2000s, beginning with wampum and a piece of Plymouth Rock to Apolo Ohmo's ice skates and the 2008 presidential election.

At the show's entrance visitors are greeted by Dorothy's red ruby shoes from the movie, "The Wizard of Oz." The show flows in a circle with interactive screens in the center near a video camera used by a French film crew at Sept. 11, 2001, in downtown Manhattan.

The historical objects tell "the tales from e pluribus unum," said the museum's interim director Marc Pachter at the preview opening. "There are millions of untold stories out there."

There are items that belonged to Benjamin Franklin as well as a jacket worn by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and Archie Bunker's chair from the TV show, "All in the Family." The profoundly historic mixes with the everyday and mythic. "The power of the ruby slippers is real," Pachter said.

The 5,300-square-feet exhibition displays a fraction of the Smithsonian's holding to "examine the manner in which culture, politics, economics, science, technology, and the peopling of the United States have shaped the country over the decades," according to a museum statement. "Dedicated spaces throughout will regularly feature new acquisitions to give a more inclusive representation of the experiences of all Americans."

Highlights include the following objects:

= a fragment of Plymouth Rock

= a section of the first transatlantic telegraph cable

= a sunstone capital from the Latter-day Saints temple at Nauvoo, Illinois

= the ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz"

= baseballs used by Babe Ruth and Sam Streeter

= a Kermit the Frog puppet

= clothing artifacts, including a “quinceañera” gown worn for a 15th-birthday celebration

= Apolo Ohno’s speed skates from the 2002 Winter Olympics

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Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:57:02 -0400

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