Dylan’s jacket, worn at a watershed event in music history, added to American History museum exhibit.


Bob Dylan with his hotly debated electric guitar. (Reuters)

An anonymous collector loaned the museum the black leather jacket Dylan — the great songwriter, the folk hero — was wearing when he stepped onto the stage at the Folk Festival with, shockingly, an electric guitar.

For years folk music lovers argued over whether this was a giant leap forward or musical treason. On that day there were boos and cheers, sounds that became part of the debate.

The museum has incorporated the jacket into a show of more than 100 objects called “American Stories.”

The museum is pulling many of the artifacts from its own collection to tell a layered story of America’s history and culture. It is giving the show a prominent place next to the Star Spangled Banner Gallery. It opens April 5.

Some of the materials will be very familiar to the Smithsonian museum’s visitors: the Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Benjamin Franklin’s walking stick, Abraham Lincoln’s gold pocket watch and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves.

If those don’t entice you, or if leather isn’t your thing, don’t forget all the first ladies gowns on display. 

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