When finished, the flag will probably be displayed on a tilt from the vertical to ease the stress on the hanging points. It will be housed in a four-story climate-controlled display case that could cost up to $2 million. It will be the largest case ever built for a museum artifact.
While the Star-Spangled Banner is being worked on, programs are planned to give visitors an idea of what is happening to the flag. Also, the Smithsonian and the History Channel are collaborating on a documentary, scheduled to air this fall, featuring reenactments of the War of 1812 and the bombing of Fort McHenry. Complementary educational materials are in the works, too.
And with luck, we will all be able to wake up on the morning of the millennium and know with delight that, despite all that time could do to it, the flag is still there.
By Michael Kernan