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Federal Eye
Posted at 01:01 PM ET, 05/16/2011

The Obama Family’s night at the (Smithsonian) museum


The Obamas viewed a gold watch owned by Abraham Lincoln, among other items. (By Richard Strauss/Associated Press courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution)
President Obama and his daughters visited the National Museum of American History on Sunday, marking the president’s first visit there since he took office.

Obama and his daughters visited the museum after normal visiting hours and were greeted by Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough and other museum officials, according to two Smithsonian staffers familiar with the details who were not authorized to discuss them publicly.

The first father and his daughters first toured a special temporary exhibit marking the presidency of Abraham Lincoln on the third floor that is slated to close at the end of the month. They took special interest in Lincoln’s gold watch and a “life mask” of the former president’s face, among other items, according to the tipsters.

The exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life,” brings together for the first time the Smithsonian’s various Lincoln-themed items in one room. It includes more than 60 historical items, including an iron wedge he used to split wood in the early 1830s in New Salem, Ill., to the iconic top hat he wore the night he was shot at Ford’s Theatre.

After the Lincoln exhibit, the president and Malia and Sasha toured the adjoining gallery on the American presidents, where presumably items and important events from Obama’s term will one day be displayed.

The officials said the trio didn’t visit the First Ladies exhibit on the museum’s second floor, where they would have seen first lady Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown.

The first lady did not join her husband and daughters on the trip; she spoke Sunday in Atlanta at the commencement ceremonies for Spellman College.

This was Obama’s first visit to the history museum as president and he hasn’t visited any of the other Smithsonian locales during his term, the sources said. Mrs. Obama and the girls have visited before, most notably when the first lady dedicated her inaugural gown to the museum in 2009.

Spokespeople for the president and first lady didn’t return requests for comment.

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