National Museum of American History closing galleries during major renovation

The National Museum of American History is continuing the renovation of its almost 50-year-old building.


Not going anywhere: Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from "The Wizard of Oz” (Courtesy of National Museum of American History)

The most famous artifacts from that area, such as Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from the classic “Wizard of Oz’’ will be moved to exhibit cases on the first floor. But Julia Child’s kitchen, another popular destination, will be closed, but reappear in about six months.

When the work is done in the winter of 2014, that section will have new galleries for exhibitions on American business and invention, as well as the practice of democracy in America. “Democracy is what shapes our economic life, our cultural life and, in sort, what makes America, America. And visitors will see this reflected in future exhibitions, the education center and in programs and national outreach,’ said Marc Pachter, the museum’s interim director in a statement.

The education center will be a 22,000 square foot facility on the first floor. The third floor will have a new Hall of Music with performance spaces for the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

The plans include the installation of a panoramic window on the first floor that will have a direct view of the Washington Monument. Outside the window an Alexander Calder sculpture, commissioned by the late Washington hostess and philanthropist Gwendolyn Cafritz will return to its original location.

While the construction is underway, the center core and the east side will stay open. Visitors will be able to view the Presidency exhibit, the America on the Move hall and the Greensboro, N.C. lunch counter, the Star Spangled Banner gallery and the First Ladies gowns and other White House possessions.

The exhibitions in the West Wing will be closed on a staggered schedule with the Science in American Life gallery closing January 8.

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