November 19, 2008

Museum of American History to reopen

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History says it is set to reopen its doors to the public, following a two-year, $85 million renovation.

When the museum reopens Friday, it will offer a new look at the almost 200-year-old Star-Spangled Banner and a rare chance to see the White House copy of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

The institution said it plans to unveil new exhibitions and programs throughout the reopening year.

For people of all ages, a visit to the National Museum of American History can be a defining event -- providing a deep and fundamental understanding of what it has meant to be an American, Brent D. Glass, director of the museum, said in a statement. Millions of visitors will enjoy new opportunities to explore the American narrative and the core stories of our national experience in an inspiring and memorable setting.

President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush dedicated the Star-Spangled Banner Gallery during a special ceremony Wednesday.

Historian and museum board member David McCullough gave the keynote address, speaking about the importance of history, and Judy Woodruff of PBS, who is also a museum board member, served as master of ceremonies.

The renovation project focused on three areas: architectural enhancements to the center core, including a grand staircase and skylight; construction of the new Star-Spangled Banner Gallery; and updates to the 44-year-old building's infrastructure, the museum said in a news release.