(Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)
A collection of dresses, china, and other artifacts from the United States' first ladies have been returned to the National Museum of American History for a new exhibition called "The First Ladies." About 160 objects and 26 dresses will be on view, with Michelle Obama's stunning Jason Wu-designed inaugural gown as the exhibit's centerpiece.
The Smithsonian Institution first gave the public a look into the lives of these prominent women in 1914, and every First Lady since Helen Taft has donated her inaugural gown to the collection. This latest installment, which explores how their roles in society have changed over the years and their impact on fashion, will be the 10th version of the exhibit in nearly 100 years. The last one closed in October in order to renovate the 120,000 square-foot west wing early next year.
"We knew that it would be unacceptable during the renovation timeframe for the public to go two years without this popular and almost 100-year-old tradition at the Smithsonian," interim museum director Marc Pachter said.
This will be the first time curators have added in other mementos to compliment the dresses and china on display.
"I really wanted it to be about memory," said Lisa Kathleen Graddy, curator of the collection. "My word was always 'scrapbook.' These are the things that people save. These are the things that women especially save, and this is so much a women's show."
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