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Website of the Week — National Museum of American History


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations.

One of the world's most popular museums has just closed for a two-year renovation project. If you come to Washington, you won't be able visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, but if you can get to a computer you can take a virtual tour at

GLASS: "Well, the museum's mission is to tell the story of America through our collections and our public programs and exhibitions and websites, so the website is really part and parcel of our public program effort here at the museum."

Brent Glass is director of the National Museum of American History and its vast array of objects and documents marking events and trends, places and people in U.S. history. The museum's collections include items from advertising, clothing, computers, photography, and sports, among other fields. Glass says the website includes a sampling of objects from each collection, with photographs and explanations — many of them more in-depth than you would see in the museum itself.

GLASS: "We have three million objects in our collection, and that includes archival manuscripts and coins and currency. And we don't have a description of every object. But we do have a description of many of the highlights of the collection. And then, if you want to learn a little more, you can drill even further into that particular subject for information on individual objects."

The website also offers online exhibits for an in-depth look at subjects including sweatshop labor, American wine, the disability rights movement and transportation. That's a particularly well-done exhibit, called "America on the Move," featuring not just how Americans have traveled over the years but how transportation has affected the country's development.

The National Museum of American History is one of Washington's most eclectic, featuring locomotives and farm equipment, clocks and toys, the inauguration gowns of America's First Ladies, and the flag that inspired our national anthem. And museum director Brent Glass says the website reflects that diversity.

GLASS: "There is something for everyone. There is information for teachers. There are activities for kids. And then there is just general, rich information about American history."

The Smithsonian Institution's entertaining and educational panorama of U.S. history at, or get the link from our site,