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Premier History Museum to Undergo Renovation

The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. will soon undergo a major renovation. But officials have announced a plan to keep some of the institution's most significant artifacts on public display while the museum is closed.

The National Museum of American History has not had a significant renovation since it opened in 1964. Museum officials realized major infrastructure work would require the building to be closed for an extended period of time.

But samples of the museum's exclusive collection of U.S. historical and cultural memorabilia will remain in public view. The museum's staff has assembled more than 150 pieces for a special exhibit called "Treasures of American History."

Museum director Brent Glass says the exhibit is designed to represent a cross section of the facility's collection. "I am very, very pleased to have the opportunity to put these collections on display. I think it's fair to say that we have never attempted to bring together the most outstanding objects from all our different collections in one exhibit until this time."

Glass says the museum selected items designed to represent four core themes from American history -- biography, identification, national challenges, and creation and innovation.

It includes a wide range of items, such as a Bible owned by President Thomas Jefferson, an original score by composer Duke Ellington, and the robots from the popular "Star Wars" movie series.

Glass says the sample reflects the institution's mission to represent the diversity of America's past. "The National Museum of American History has the mandate of telling the full sweep of American history. And that includes popular culture and entertainment. It includes our political history, religious history, economic history, social history, and military history. So we try to tell all the stories of American history."

The museum closes after September 5th. Staff will continue working on exhibits throughout the renovation, which is expected to be completed in 2008.

The special "Treasures of American History" exhibit will open November 17th at the National Air and Space Museum on Washington's National Mall.