Marking Asian American and Jewish American Heritage Months and EMS Day

May brings a new video series, EMS Day at the museum and showcasing objects for Jewish American Heritage Month



May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Online Digital Video Series roll out, May 1

“Come Through – Asian Pacific American Voices at the Smithsonian” is a new five-episode video series launching May 1. Hosted by actor and musician Gillian Jackson Han, each episode will feature a Smithsonian expert focusing on various objects connected to Asian American stories in the Smithsonian collections. A new video will post each Wednesday in May. The videos will highlight National Museum of American History artifacts related to political history, entertainment, including discussing a K-pop album by artist Eric Nam, and the life-saving heroics of Pentagon law officer Isaac Ho’opi’i on Sept. 11, 2001. Viewers will also get a peek into the collecting process as a curator examines artifacts from Baltimore’s Chinatown community and a National Museum of Natural History scientist explains the story behind a meteorite on view in that museum which was discovered in Utah’s desert by two Japanese American men held in an incarceration camp during WWII.

Check the museum’s website for links and visit the museum’s resource page for Asian Pacific American History.


“Innovative Lives: Doug DeAngelis”
Wednesday, May 1; 3 – 4:15 p.m.
Coulter Plaza, First Floor West

In conjunction with the recently opened exhibition “Change Your Game/Cambia tu juego,” the museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation will present a conversation with Doug DeAngelis, runner and inventor-entrepreneur behind the FinishLynx photo-finish camera. In 1990, at age 24, DeAngelis sought to improve the photo finish cameras that were popular in the 1980s and sketched out a two-page idea for what he called a “digital “Accutrack.” Instead of capturing finish-line images on Polaroid film, his concept would capture and timestamp digital images of the finish line and store them on a computer. In 1992, DeAngelis became the founder, president and chief technology officer of Lynx Systems Developers, which today provides photo-finish cameras and timing solutions for the Olympic Trials, Kentucky Derby, NASCAR, and the Tour de France.


Objects-Out-of-Storage/Jewish American Heritage Month
Wednesday, May 15, from 1:30 -3:30 p.m.
Coulter Plaza, First Floor, West

To mark Jewish American Heritage Month, the National Museum of American History will showcase artifacts from its national collections, including from areas including business history, medicine, numismatics and philanthropy as well as from its Archives Center.  Highlights of objects on view during the afternoon include Sears, Roebuck and Co. President and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald’s gold pocket watch, Entrepreneur Lillian Vernon’s personal scrapbook, Albert Einstein’s pipe and objects related to Polio researchers and vaccine developers Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin along with a first century silver shekel made and used by Jewish people in ancient Israel.  

EMS Day at the Museum
Wednesday, May 22; Noon – 4 p.m.
First Floor West & Warner Bros. Theater

The National Museum of American History will explore the history of Emergency Medical Services in the U.S. during the 50th Anniversary of EMS Awareness Week with a special day of events. The roots of today's Emergency Medical Services go back to the chaotic field-care during war time battles, including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Over time, it developed into today's EMS with specialists trained to respond to accidents and disasters, from heart attacks and home fires to hurricanes, earthquakes and terror attacks. Pittsburgh’s Freedom House Ambulance Service, founded in 1967, was staffed by Black paramedics and was the first ambulance service to offer emergency medical treatment in the U.S. The afternoon events will include a panel discussion with John Moon, one of the Pittsburgh paramedics, and others. Representatives from the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT), the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS), and DC Fire and EMS will be on hand to talk about the history of saving lives in an emergency. Visitors will also be able to see related objects from the museum's collection and vintage ambulances.



History Film Forum Presents: “Shari & Lamb Chop”
Sunday, May 12; 2 p.m.
Warner Bros. Theater, First Floor Center

Free registration via JxJ Film and Music Festival

The museum’s History Film Forum will present “Shari & Lamb Chop” in conjunction with the JxJ Film and Music Festival. Lewis was a dancer, singer and magician, but was best known as the ventriloquist behind sock puppets Charlie Horse, Hush Puppy and Lamb Chop. This documentary, directed by Emmy-nominated Lisa D’Apolito, tells the story of Lewis and her place in the history of children’s television. The screening will be followed by a conversation with the director. For more information, visit the museum's website.



“Wide Awake: The Forgotten Force that Elected Lincoln and Spurred the Civil War”
by Jon Grinspan
Published May 14 by Bloomsbury

“Wide Awake,” a book by Jon Grinspan, political history curator at the museum, tells the story of one of the largest, weirdest and most important political movements in American history. At the start of the 1860 presidential campaign, the election just before the Civil War, young people formed diverse anti-slavery “Wide Awake” clubs, marching to elect Lincoln and defend democracy. Their rising won that election, but also spurred the Civil War. This propulsive history – based on recent Smithsonian discoveries – helps explain how politics can spiral, play-by-play, into warfare.


What to know:
The museum is open seven days a week, except Dec. 25, between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Admission is free, and passes are not required. For more information, go to

The Eat at America’s Table Cafe is open for complete food and beverage service. In May, Chef Kyre and his team will commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a special menu to include Korean BBQ Pork, Huli Huli Chicken Wings, Vegetable Stir Fry, as well as several themed sides and salads. The Leroy Neiman Jazz Cafe offers light lunch, including Chicken Etouffee, Shrimp Creole and Dirty Rice, Cajun Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Creole Tomato Soup and House Made Beignets, as well as hot and cold beverages. The Jazz Cafe proudly serves Starbucks coffee. For more information, visit the website.


Bottled water is allowed in the museum. We recommend bringing a refillable water bottle for fountains.

Stores: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. The museum, located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, is open daily except Dec. 25 between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The doors of the museum are always open online and the virtual museum continues to expand its offerings, including online exhibitions, K–12 educational materials and programs. The public can follow the museum on social media via Instagram and Facebook. For more information, go to For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.