The Star Spangled Banner exhibit at the National Museum of American History has gone high tech. Like many Americans, I remember going to the Smithsonian Institution as a kid and seeing the famous flag hanging in entryway. The current display protects it from sunlight and includes a very cool touchscreen that lets you zoom in on specific parts of the flag. As you leave the darkened room, a sign asks you to tweet your comments to @amhistorymuseum.
My wife and I planned our day in D.C. to include a trip to the museum because she wanted to see the old ladies’ dresses First Ladies’ Gowns. While we were there, I wanted to show her Julia Child’s kitchen, even though I saw it last summer. I am a longtime fan of the French Chef. An interview with Julia played on a video screen with an occasional slide saying that the footage was recorded on September 11, 2001. I didn’t notice any reference to that day’s terrorist attacks and couldn’t figure out why they mentioned it.
“Batman” was represented at least twice in the museum. In the cafeteria, they had a display of lunchboxes through the years. I saw a Batman & Robin lunchbox that was similar to one I had in first grade. I thought mine also had The Penguin on it, but a Google search makes me think the villains were on the thermos.
After enjoying lunch from the salad bar, my wife and I took the elevator up to the third floor. The doors opened to reveal an assortment of original Muppets from Jim Henson’s days at WRC-TV, before “Sesame Street.” Beyond that we could see Archie and Edith Bunker’s chairs from “All in the Family.”
The museum rotates the display of pop-culture treasures in the relatively small space. The highlight for me was seeing one of Julie Newmar’s Catwoman costumes from the “Batman” TV series. It was placed next to a case with Fonzie’s leather jacket, Phyllis Diller’s wig and few other items.
Around the corner from Catwoman was a room featuring items from 1939. We saw Dorothy’s ruby slippers and a page from “The Wizard of Oz” screenplay in which the slippers were silver, like in the book. I gravitated toward a display case for radio, which held an NBC microphone, Toscanini’s baton and radio’s most famous dummy, Charlie McCarthy. That’s me on the right.