10. To revel in the $85 million renovation. Peruse the 400 hand-selected artifacts from the museum’s collection of three million in its new five-story sky-lit atrium.
9. To be the first of 1,814 visitors (the year Francis Scott Key saw the flag fly over Ft. McHenry) through the doors. The lucky firsts will receive a special gift. Memorabilia fanatics, please don’t trample the kiddies.
8. To conduct an experiment with madman Steven Madewell, the new Spark!Lab’s “Resident Eccentric.”
7. To feel what it’s like to wear a corset. Really. Carts positioned throughout the museum will provide hands on learning. If corsets aren’t your thing, try using a cotton gin or copying a letter the way Jefferson did.
6. Did I mention the tchotchkes? Volunteers will be handing out mini Star-Spangled Banners.
5. To see if you have the gumption to take part in a Civil Rights era sit-in. Activist Samuel P. Leonard will be on hand to offer sit-in training sessions, based on a 1960s manual, several times a day.
4. To marvel at the four-story images from the collections—George Washington’s military uniform, Julia Child’s kitchen, the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz—that will be projected on the Mall-side of the museum after dark.
3. They are firing a War of 1812 cannon at the opening ceremony.
2. To hear Colin Powell read the Gettysburg Address.
And the Number One Reason to visit the National Museum of American History is: As if I need to say more, you’ll be one of the first to see the Star-Spangled Banner, in all its glory, presented in its new gallery. You can’t miss it. The climate-controlled gallery is marked by a 40 by 19 foot billowing flag of 960 shimmering tiles. Prepare to be amazed.
(Image courtesy of Richard Strauss/National Museum of American History)