New First Ladies Exhibit Coming to Smithsonian

Exhibit to feature new gallery of gowns and goods

By Pat Lawson Muse
|  Friday, Feb 26, 2010  |  Updated 5:01 PM EDT
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New First Ladies Exhibit Coming to Smithsonian

Smithsonian

Just in time for spring, the popular first ladies exhibit at the Smithsonian is about to hit the runway with a new feature. It’s a gallery of glamorous gowns worn by 11 of the most recent first ladies.

Beginning with a gown donned by Mamie Eisenhower, the new showcase includes a total of 14 dresses that belonged to first ladies including Grace Coolidge, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Taft and Jackie Kennedy.

However, you’ll see more than gowns in this new exhibit, which is divided into three main sections in the main gallery. There’s the evolution of the First Ladies Collection, a section highlighting inaugural gown tradition, and one that focuses on the contributions of first ladies to the presidency and American society.

In addition to the gowns, which will be on display in the main gallery, visitors will also find portraits, White House china, personal possessions, watercolor sketches and other objects from the Smithsonian’s unique collection of first ladies’ materials.

And while the dresses will no doubt be a highlight of this show, what you won’t see is the one-shouldered, white-silk chiffon gown, shoes and jewelry worn by the current first lady, Michelle Obama, during the January 2009 inaugural festivities. There’s been no date set yet for her donation to the museum, but there’s plenty else to make this show a hit, just as the First Ladies Collection has been for almost a century.

The new exhibit opens March 10.
 

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