The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will open its doors to the public Friday, Nov. 21, providing a new look at the almost 200-year-old Star-Spangled Banner and a rare chance to see the White House copy of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The reopening will mark the completion of a two-year, $85 million renovation of the building’s center core.
A ribbon cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. starts the three-day festivities, which includes musical entertainment, refreshments, giveaways, and more. Other entertainment includes the firing of an authentic War of 1812 cannon and a reading of the Gettysburg Address, a copy of which is on temporary loan from the White House, by General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret).
Following the ribbon-cutting, the museum will welcome history back to the National Mall as a procession of historical characters lead visitors into the building. The first 1,814 visitors to the ribbon cutting and through the museum doors will receive a special gift in honor of 1814, the year of the Battle of Baltimore when the Star-Spangled Banner waving at “dawn’s early light” inspired Francis Scott Key to pen his famous lyrics; all visitors will be able to take home a first-day souvenir (while supplies last).
One of the must-see areas in the newly renovated museum is Spark!Lab, which aims to use fun activities to help kids and families learn about the history and process of invention. You can play games, conduct science experiments, explore inventors’ notebooks, and even invent!
The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue on the National Mall.