The Washington Post

First Ladies’ gowns are back on view at the Smithsonian

The clothing and the causes of America’s First Ladies are always objects of great curiosity. The fancy gowns, jewelry and dishes of the First Ladies at the Smithsonian Institution always draw long lines.

The 1933 Inaugural gown of Eleanor Roosevelt (National Museum of American History)

The new arrangement has 26 dresses, including 8 that have never been displayed or at least haven’t been out of storage for a very long time.

Out of storage are:

Grace Coolidge’s blue satin flapper-style evening gown.

Items in First Ladies show wore by Caroline Harrison

Caroline Harrison’s burgundy velvet and gray satin gown.

Lou Hoover’s silk crepe evening gown.

Hoover’s floral-patterned silk day dress.

Dolley Madison’s pink silk brocade gown.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s slate-blue silk crepe gown, worn at the 1933 inaugural ball.

Edith Wilson’s black lace over white satin dress.

Other objects new to the exhibition include the china service of George W. Bush.

Nearly 200 items explain the roles of the First Ladies. Other gowns have been donated by Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan.


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