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Five Things Leslie Knope Should See at the Smithsonian

As NBC's "Parks and Recreation" prepares to shoot its season five opener in D.C., we offer up five must-sees for the newest city councilmember of Pawnee, Indiana

“Parks and Recreation” heroine Leslie Knope would love to see this mural study from an Indiana post office on her visit to DC. Clearing the Right of Way by Joe Cox, 1938. Image courtesy American Art Museum.

Right when D.C. needs her most, NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” heroine Leslie Knope appears. At least, that’s the hope. DCist, among other outlets, reported last week that the critically-acclaimed show about small town government in Knope’s beloved Pawnee, Indiana, will be heading to D.C. this week to film part of  its season five opener.

Viewers will remember that the on-and-off-again relationship between Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) took another hit when Wyatt decided to take a position in D.C. as a campaign adviser. NBC has only confirmed that scenes could be filmed Thursday and Friday but not whom those scenes would include or where those scenes would be shot. Poehler and Scott seem the obvious choices, but local fans are hopeful lovable curmudgeon and manliest of all the men, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) will also make an appearance.

If Knope does make it to D.C., it would be a dream come true for a woman whose office includes framed photos of Madeleine Albright, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. With so much to see here in just two days, we narrowed our list down to five Knope must-sees.

Could these diminutive horses at the National Zoo be distant relations of Knope’s favorite mini-horse Li’l Sebastian? Probably not, but she’ll still like them.

1. Li’l Przewalski: Though no horse could ever replace the dearly departed Li’l Sebastian, Pawnee’s favorite mini-horse, the National Zoo’s diminutive band will help Knope feel right at home. The Przewalski’s horses, named after the Polish scientist who first described the species (and pronounced sheh-val-skee), grow to be just four feet tall.

2. Votes for Women pennant: The collection of First Lady artifacts, including Michelle Obama’s inaugural ball gown, is worth a visit for anyone, but we know Knope is more interested in being the first lady president, not the president’s First Lady. A big fan of voting in general, Knope should visit the American History Museum  to see pennants, buttons and signs from the suffrage movement and maybe take some notes for her own presidential campaign gear.

3. Waffle literature: That’s right, in the great treasure trove that is the Smithsonian Libraries, there are scores of documents about the creation of the waffle iron. Because Knope is such an avid and serious waffle-fan (Her position statement includes the line, “A Knope presidency will be a waffle-based presidency, and everyone has to deal with that.”), she’ll want to sift through papers about Cornelius Swarthout’s 1869 patent that made Troy, New York the waffle capital of the world.

Knope can purchase her own replica of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s Liberty Eagle pin after viewing the original in the American History Museum collection.

4. Clearing the Right of Way, Indiana mural: While this mural on view at the American Art Museum doesn’t have the bloodshed or aggressively offensive material Knope may be used to in Pawnee’s city hall, it does depict another sort of patriotic moment in Indiana’s history. Commissioned by the Works Progress Administration, Joe Cox completed this mural study for the post office in Garrett, Ind. of muscular loggers clearing land for the railroad. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, the mustached man far left could very well be Ron Swanson’s relative.

5. Madeleine Albright swag: Some look to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as a style icon, but the true trendsetter of Leslie Knope’s Washington will always be Madeleine Albright, whose pins alone warranted their own exhibit at the Smithsonian. After a generous donation to the American History Museum, Knope and other Albrighters can view the former Secretary of State’s red wool dress and Ferragamo pumps worn the day she was appointed to office, as well as several pins including her Liberty Eagle pin–patriotic and one-of-a-kind, just like Knope. She can even pick up her own replica while in town.

 

 

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About Leah Binkovitz
Leah Binkovitz

Leah Binkovitz is a Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow at Washington Post and NPR. Previously, she was a contributing writer and editorial intern for the At the Smithsonian section of Smithsonian magazine.

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