April 13th, 2012
Quinceañera Dress To Be Part Of Smithsonian Exhibit

Who would have thought it? This is the lead paragraph of an Associated Press story that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times:

She was just a regular kid. Now, the dress that a young Chicago woman wore for her quinceanera five years ago is among the relics in an exhibition that opened Thursday in Washington at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

The young woman is Natalia Flores, now 20, who is as surprised as anyone to see her quinceañera dress curated by the Smithsonian for the same exhibition that holds Benjamin Franklin’s walking stick. So what do the two have in common? Nothing, and everything.

They’re part of the Smithsonian’s new “American Stories”  exhibit. As the AP explains, it will be:

…a new chronology of U.S. history from the early encounters of Europeans and Native Americans to a Barack Obama campaign button written in Hebrew in the 2008 presidential election.

“We’re so getting away from the time when history was all about white men on horses,” said Marc Pachter, the museum’s interim director. “This is a broader definition of what is important to remember.”

The exhibit is about a broader definition of America, but everyone and everything is an ambitious goal. Then again, isn’t America a large ambition as well? So,

Curators also are asking visitors to suggest objects that should be part of the American history collection. They can make suggestions in the exhibit or on the museum’s website.

There are more than 100 objects on display in the gallery: wampum beads from the time of the landing at Plymouth rock, a 1830s slave ship manifest from Alexandria, Va., Abraham Lincoln’s gold pocket watch, a baseball card signed by Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente’s batting helmet, an Apple II computer, and Natalia’s dress.

“It’s my own American story here in America,” she said while visiting the museum Wednesday. “It’s a representation of many other stories of Latinas.”

This is also the first Smithsonian major exhibit with a Spanish translation. It can be accesses using a mobile device or online. You can find out more about the “American Stories” exhibit HERE.

[Photo by Daadi]

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