A Reflection on Smithsonian’s National Museum Tour

The assignment involved a virtual visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The museum is characterized by three huge exhibition flows demonstrating impeccably preserved divisions of American history displayed on its website via a virtual tour. The tour provided a great opportunity to view various exhibitions of historical events that took place from 1500 to 1865 in the United States. Visiting this floor’s exhibition was quite an exciting experience. The tour started with a high gear with identification of the Star-Spangled Banner at the center of the second floor. The banner is marked by the silver artificial version of an American flag, stretching from floor to ceiling on a wall.

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The exhibition invoked memories of the Battle of Baltimore that took place in 1812.  The banner label claims that the banner was made in 1813 by Mary Pickersgill. It used wool bunting containing cotton stars as its material. The design included 15 stripes and 15 stars, and it acted as the official flag of the United States from 1795 to 1818. The label also noted that the current size is much less than the original size after one star, and some other pieces were cut in the 1800s as patriotic keepsakes. The flag fabric is protected using low lighting levels, and it is protected with a huge glass. The banner also invoked the memory of the formation of the United States National Anthem that began like a poem and that done after the end of the war in 1814 (Smithsonian, 2021). The museum incorporates the two, with the national anthem playing in the background and its wording projected in white block letters on black background. It was quite a significant thing to learn about the origin of the country’s national anthem.

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There were other exciting views in the second-floor virtual tours. These include President George Washington’s statue situated in the west wing of the second floor. The statute was made by Horatio Greenough using 12-ton marble. The statue is modeled on ancient Greece classic statuary and is situated at the west. The statue invokes the history of America, particularly its establishment and the role that the founding fathers played in making the U.S. an independent country and in drafting the first U.S. Constitution. George Washington was the first President of the United States, who ruled from 1789 to 1797. This statue invoked a feeling of honor and respect for our nation’s founding fathers and their contribution to making America what it is today.

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The west wing also has a section named “Within These Walls” that documents American history during the colonial period around the 1700s. The exhibition highlights five ordinary families whose lives in the house walls became a significant part of events and changes in the country’s past. The most incredible artifact in the section depicts the Georgian-style story timber-framed house constructed in the 1760s in Boston. This brings in the memory of Americans suffering under the colony, the American Revolution, and Americans’ struggle for independence. It also invokes some memories of slavery and African Americans’ struggle for their freedom. It also demonstrates the colony’s influence on Americans’ lives long after the end of their era in the country. The virtual tour was quite clear, with good lighting and narrative on the section and its contribution to American history. This section invoked a mix of feelings, including unpleasant feelings, especially in the narration of struggle during colonial time and American life before independence.

The east wing of the second floor has an interesting exhibition section named “American Stories” This section had a different exhibition denoting changes in American history from the 1770s onwards. It contains changes of technology in all sectors, as well as major historical events that took place in the place. One of the things that caught my eyes was the print of the Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street in 1770, though in the display was its reprint done in 1820. The print was done by Paul Revere, and it demonstrated an event where British troops wounded six civilians and killed five others in Boston. It revealed the American’s struggle during American Revolution, an incident that fueled anti-English sentiment. The section also has a life mask of Abraham Lincoln that is made of Bronze Cast, created in 1880. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States that ruled from 1861 to 1865. The life mask invokes the American Civil War memory, and African Americans struggle to gain equal rights. Lincoln made a significant contribution in abolishing slavery and supporting African American voting rights.

Generally, the virtual tour gave a great and exciting experience in learning history visually and having precise details of events represented by some of the preserved elements of the incidences. Though virtual, the tour gave a natural feeling of coming in contact with the reality of the past. The narrative part made the exhibition so real that it was easy to invoke feelings related to each incident. The details were quite satisfactory, making one feel involved. The images were clear, with a chance to enlarge images to see even the most minor possible details. This was a great experience that created the need to view and search for more information about American history. Coming in touch with reality made events more critical than seen before. The power of visual learning was evident in this tour.

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