Anne Applebaum questioned why the National Museum of American History does not provide a chronological setting in at least one or two major exhibitions ["Give This 'Attic' a Story to Tell," op-ed, June 22]. One of the largest exhibitions does just that. "The Price of Freedom; Americans at War" surveys the military history of the country from the Revolutionary War to Iraq.

The exhibition is one of our most popular -- not just because visitors can see Civil War weaponry and a Huey helicopter but because the curators and educators at the museum understand that education in a museum is different from how we learn from textbooks, television or in the classroom. A visit to a museum is a sensory, mostly visual experience. We present the real objects that you read about in books -- the flag that Francis Scott Key saw; the chairs that Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee sat in at Appomattox -- and allow the audience to explore history according to their level of interest.

There is room in the museum for chronology and for specialized subjects along with landmarks such as Dorothy's ruby slippers. Our visitors encounter history on many levels, and we must offer a variety of formats to stimulate their curiosity.



National Museum of American History