WASHINGTON — Pop culture fans can now see Prince’s guitar, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” Jim Henson’s original handmade Kermit the Frog, Nipsey Hussle’s chains, the Mr. sweater Rogers and more iconic artifacts in the same room, for free.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, opens a new permanent exhibit on Friday that explores the history of American entertainment, showcasing objects, costumes, graphics and memorable clips from numerous artists and performers. most influential over the years.
It also examines the intersection of pop culture with politics and social issues, as guests assess the role their favorite stories and arts have played in influencing the world around them.
“I hope people come away with a sense not only of the richness of American entertainment history, but very thoughtful about the questions that entertainment raises and how they feel about the entertainments they consume.” says curator Krystal Klingenberg. “This exhibition covers music, film, television, sports and theatre, and we’re all hooked on the various things you can watch, but (the thesis is) to think deeply about this power of entertainment and how it affects our lives “.
Alongside clothing, including Elizabeth Moss’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” dress, Latina icon Selena’s leather jacket and Bill Nye’s light blue lab coat, are immersive and interactive exhibits, from ‘a three-wall video exploration into the history of comedy stereotypes to touch metal. versions of some of the most famous artifacts for visually impaired guests on a part of the original Woodstock stage that guests can stand. Every sign, caption and description is written in both English and Spanish, and many objects also have QR codes through which guests can access audio descriptions of the visuals in front of them.
Ultimately, the curators hope that guests will leave with a greater understanding and thought process behind why iconic entertainment symbols have the power they do and how this reflects the nation’s identity.
“It’s not necessarily a history of entertainment, so much as it’s the history of America through entertainment,” says curator Ryan Lintelman. “We want to show that these things are not separate from politics. … These things help shape Americans’ understanding of what’s going on in the world.”
Lintelman says that these moments in pop culture “shape the way we think about each other. And so that’s the really important issue in American history as much as anything.”
Klingenberg adds, “One thing I really appreciate about this exhibit is that it really reflects a diverse America. And it elevates people and places and stories that we may know, but really (give) a true, broad sense of who we are.”
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