Inaugurations

On January 20, 2021, poet Amanda Gorman read her her poem "The Hill We Climb" during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Why Poetry Is Experiencing an Awakening

Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of April’s National Poetry Month with these workshops from the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Chosen for the 2021 inauguration, this 1859 painting by the African American artist Robert Duncanson depicts the promise of America.

Secretary Lonnie Bunch on Healing a Divided Nation

We must use the lessons of the past to help our country grow and move forward

Robert S. Duncanson's Landscape With Rainbow (1859) “carries with it an unmistakable ray of hope,” per the Los Angeles Times. “Rainbows typically appear after a storm has passed, not before.”

Inauguration History

Smithsonian Curator Reflects on Joe Biden's 'Poignant' Inaugural Painting

Eleanor Harvey posits that the 1859 landscape's message of hope resonated with First Lady Jill Biden, who helped select the artwork

Gorman's inaugural poem contains lines stating “But while democracy can be periodically delayed / It can never be permanently defeated.”

Inauguration History

Meet Amanda Gorman, the U.S.' Youngest Inaugural Poet

The 22-year-old revised her original composition, "The Hill We Climb," in the aftermath of the January 6 storming of the Capitol

Kamala Harris wears her signature pearls as she accepts the vice-presidential nomination at the August 2020 virtual Democratic National Convention broadcast from Wilmington, Deleware.

Why Kamala Harris' Pearls Have a Special Significance

The vice president-elect's ties to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, run deep, and her jewelry lets that shine

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Take a Look Inside These Six Presidential Homes

The White House isn't the only address worth visiting this Presidents' Day

NMAH director John Gray, designer Hervé Pierre, First Lady Melania Trump and Smithsonian secretary David Skorton pose with the silk crepe gown.

Melania Trump Donates Her Inaugural Ball Gown to the Smithsonian

Mrs. Trump, who confesses a passion for design, had a precise idea of what she wanted to wear on that historic evening

An engraving from the Illustrated London News, recorded the "Ball in Honour of President Lincoln in the Great Hall of the Patent Office at Washington," which today is the home of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

Ask Smithsonian 2017

When Was the First Inaugural Ball?

Nothing says there’s a new president in town more than the dance party they throw

Being stuck in a crowd can be an overwhelming experience. Physicists and computer scientists bring some order to the chaos.

How Fluid Dynamics Can Help You Navigate Crowds

If you plan to be in a seething mass of humans at some point—whether it’s an inauguration or protest thereof—here's how to keep yourself safe

Not officially on the guest list for Richard Nixon’s 1973 inaugural ball, this chicken decided to check out the scene anyway. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Inauguration History

That Time a Chicken Crashed Nixon’s Inaugural Ball and Other Crazy Inaugural Tales

Ten quirky moments from inaugural history, including presidential lassoing

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Poetry Matters: Lessons From America’s First Inaugural Poet

Introducing a new monthly poetry column, just in time to offer inaugural poet Richard Blanco some advice from Robert Frost

The six men line up before the parade begins.

Inauguration History

Who Were the Six Native American Chiefs in Teddy Roosevelt’s Inaugural Parade?

Another inauguration, another opportunity to learn more about the men whose presence shocked the country

Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries building decorated for James Garfield’s inaugural ball, complete with string light garlands and patriotic buntings.

Inauguration History

Party Like It’s 1881: President Garfield’s Inaugural Ball

Nothing says, "Welcome, Mr. President," like 3,000 gas lights and a big hulking statue

Inauguration History

If Only Hollywood Would Show Us Lincoln’s Second Inaugural

Our pop culture curator Amy Henderson strolls the halls of the Old Patent Building imagining the scene of Lincoln's 1865 inaugural ball

Illustration from Illustrated London News, April 8, 1865.

The Civil War

Document Deep Dive: The Menu From President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball

What delicacies and confectionaries were found on the 250-foot-long buffet table?

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How Would You Rank the Greatest Presidents?

In a new book, political junkie Robert W. Merry shares his three-part test

On February 4, 1789, the 69 members of the Electoral College made George Washington the only chief executive to be unanimously elected.

George Washington: The Reluctant President

It seemed as if everyone rejoiced at the election of our first chief executive except the man himself

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Meet Mrs. Obama's Inaugural Jewelry Designer Loree Rodkin

"You've called the wrong jewelry designer," was Rodkin's first thought when she got the call to do Michelle Obama's inaugural earrings, ring and bracelets

First lady Michelle Obama's donates her Jason Wu inaugural ball gown to the First Ladies' Collection at the National Museum of American History.

First Lady's Inaugural Gown Arrives at Smithsonian

Michelle Obama donates her Jason Wu gown to the First Ladies' Collection at the National Museum of American History

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Smithsonian Inaugural Collections Grow with Obama Souvenirs

Over the inaugural weekend, Smithsonian curators were among the crowds searching for significant artifacts that will later mark the historical moment

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